Friday, December 31, 2010

A full holiday season

What a great holiday season this has been! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. I felt especially spoiled this year - as well as especially grateful for all the oppurtunities to spend time with those I hold dear this year.

The highlight was most definately spending time with my family and my sailor. He was able to come down for 5 days surrounding Christmas. Though exhausted from all the running around,we had a great time. Disneyland, Julian, Pacifica Del Mar, TRON:Legacy, happy hour at Hacienda De Vega...

All great times.

Some part of me is mildly surprised on how much fun My Sailor and I have together , then again, a larger portion of me isn't surprised at all. Afterall, after 12+ years of solid-through-thick-and-thin friendship, nothing could be more natural. To sum it up, I love that he accepts me for me, takes an active role in supporting me,  and keeps me sane when I've needed it most. I've been on high gaurd for a long time. It feels good to finally let it go.
(And the fact that my friends AND my family practically want to adopt him is a completely new and awesome experience for me too!)

More photos to come of the holidays later. While I'm sorry he couldn't be here for New Years, thanks to my parents we're spending this New Year's Skyping and on Netflix. Hopefully next year's will be together (unless he's deployed). Here's to hopin' and cheers to a new year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

O' Christmas Tree, O' Christmas Tree....

Though I don't live in the official "Sunshine State", California is known for being in the 70's and sunny on Christmas day. While it may warm up before Christmas, it's been raining steadying for a week. Not hard downpours, but just a steady drizzle. At first, it felt odd for it to be cloudy all day, but I must say, I've adjusted. Now, I'm enjoying this little taste of winter.

But my blog isn't about the weather. It's about this crazy journey that is my life!

My roommate and his girlfriend helped me pick out a pine tree, but we didn't look close enough at the trunk, so it took a lot of doing to get it standing. While I was happy to do it myself, I really appreciate his need to feel like a man -because it saved me a couple of hours with a handsaw! My Sailor offered to do it when he comes out, but I prefered not to wait until the 22nd to get it standing.

So here is my first (and only) Christmas tree in the condo!

I've learned something from this experience too.
People obsess way too much about their tree.

So my tree has a couple of little bald spots in the bottom.

Who cares?

I've never heard of someone honestly going over to someone's house for the holidays and said, "You know, your tree has a gap there."
I mean, seriously - It's a tree. It's one of the most stunningly complex systems in nature. It makes my home smell awesome piney fresh. The lights look like little droplets of magic sparkling away. I'm sure it will provide lots of fun and great memories as my Sailor and I trim it in a few days.

Sure, it's not "perfect". But define perfect? Even Charlie Brown's tree is heartwarming to most.

Since there is a very good chance this will be my last tree in California for a while, I'm loving every minute of it.

Thanks to my friends, my house has already been filled with laughter, love, and warmth this holiday season. I'm looking foward to what the rest of the year has in store as I make plans with my family.

And as for the bike - I'm hearing rumors that it might be my birthday present!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Merry Christmas, Mr. Bike thief...

To whoever stole Sally - 
As you clean up your ill-gotten-goods, there are a few things you should know that you probably don't.
   You probably don't know that the 2 stickers on the bike are from completing Triathlons - the first of which changed my life forever.
You probably don't know how many trips to the grocery store that bike assisted me with.
You probably don't know how many good times it provided with gal pals on Bike and Brunch weekends.
You probably don't know that it helped me get to work on National Bike to Work day.
You probably don't know how I took a header off of it, flipping the bike, while traveling down a steep mountain trail with GreenGuy.
You probably don't know that I named it "Sally" after the Porche in Cars.
You probably don't know the new level of fitness my $60 walmart special, pink and white Hyper bike helped me achieve.

I hope you needed it more than I did.
So here's to you, Bicycle theif.
I hope the $60 you saved was worth it.
Merry Christmas.
- Me

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's the week before Christmas! Duck and Cover!

It's nearly Christmas and I can hardly believe it! So much to do, so little time!

This year, I have a special guest over Christmas! FlyBoy (who will be often refered to as my Sailor now, since he's in the Navy) is joining me and my family for Christmas this year! I couldn't be more excited, but I feel like I have a thousand things to do before he arrives. In fact, this time next week, I'll be finding him in the airport.

I'm sure it'll be odd for him. He's used to a Michigan Christmas, and we haven't seen snow since 1967. Christmas will (hopefully) at least be a little chilly (for us) - which means a high in the low 60's most likely. But it should be a fun change of pace for both of us! I'm looking forward to Christmas light hunting, spending time with my family and friends, and just enjoying a peaceful Christmas weekend.
Especially since the next 7 days will be so busy!

So here is the run down for the next, say 7 days:

Today - Work, go to Riverside for a friend's graduation from Nursing school, work again
Tomorrow- Work a full day, hang out with another friend to Christmas movies.
Friday - Work and finish with the tree stuff
Saturday - Work and help some friends finish up a holiday care package they are throwing together for my Sailor and his buddies.
Sunday - Work and finish any last minute cleaning.
Monday - Work and finish gift wrapping.
Tuesday - Work work work!
Wednesday- Work and pick up my sailor!

So it's bound to be a super busy week!
Hope you all are having fun getting ready for the holidays, and finding ways to have fun and spend time with friends and family in this wonderfuly hectic time of the year!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Being in a good place

So it's nearly the end of another year...

And I really can't complain.

I'm in a really really good place right now.

Financially - I'm finding that I'm naturally more concious about my spending and doing a great job at paying things off one step at a time. I've taken trips I've paid for in advance, instead of putting them on a credit card. I've been able to afford a few little spurlges here and there.

Artistically - Well, this area has been lacking just a tiny bit, as I'm saving money by not performing currently and working A LOT. But I'm actually okay with it because I've been able to explore my craftiness when it comes to making care packages for Flyboy and other friends. I plan to share some of my projects on this blog after the holidays.

Emotionally - I'm at peace and feel a freedom to be myself that I don't think I've ever felt before. I'm used to feeling under a lot of pressure to change or be something that I'm not (almost entirely self-imposed, I admit). Maybe I've turned a corner in my life. Maybe I had to struggle to be something I wasn't to accept who am I really am, but I'm finally okay with not being all things to all people. I'm enough for the people that matter to me - and that's a beautifully freeing discovery. I'm still challenged to grow, and I still am, but it's a wonderful feeling. And feels remarkably healthy. I'm at peace, and remarkably happy right now.

Physically - I could stand to lose some weight still. I've developed a plan, found motivation, and am enjoying getting back on the horse. But not the insane work outs and then insane time off horse. I'm developing a more healthy balance of work, play, work-out, and celebrate. However, my body is no longer fighting itself, with a crazy amount of hormones from a diseased ovary.

Spiritually - Yeah, I still have some questions, but I feel at peace with where I am right now with my spiritual relationship.

In so many ways I'm discovering a now normal and I'm loving every minute of it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Eve

As I'm packing up to go out of town for the holiday, I'm clearing up my e-mail. I stumbled across this little gem. Enjoy!
BAD Parrot

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The

parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary.

Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious

and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to

change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only

polite words, playing soft music and anything else he could

think of to 'clean up' the bird's vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up and he yelled at the parrot.

The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot and the

parrot got angrier and even more rude. John, in desperation,

threw up his hand, grabbed the bird and put him in the

freezer. For a few minutes the parrot squawked and kicked

and screamed.

Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard

for over a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened

the door to the freezer. The parrot calmly stepped out

onto John's outstretched arms and said "I believe I

may have offended you with my rude language and

actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my

inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do

everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude.

As he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a

dramatic change in his behavior, the bird spoke-up, very

softly, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Carrier for a Cause

Saturday morning was a wet one, here in southern california. But that didn't damper my spirits.

Hiding out under the wing of a plane on the flight deck in the rain
BoxerChick and I grabbed some toys and went to participate in the Toys for Tots drive at the USS Midway air craft carrier Maritime museum down in San Deigo. Here are just a few photos from that very soggy trip.

 I've always wanted to visit this museum, and I'd still like to go back. With about 2-3 hours, we still barely scratched the surface of all there is to see. My previous impressions of life on aboard a carrier were forumlated from Hollywood movies and a few scattered KPBS specials. This gave me a whole new insight. Even the simplist tasks of day to day living are done here with deliberate cause. Makes me wonder about the submarine life FlyBoy will be enduring in just a few months.

Entering the ship

This is a glass floor to show the depth of the ship - and I'm standing on it!

Anchors away!
Not only did we contribute to a good cause, but we expanded our minds and saw something new. Well worth the soggy trip! 

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Less than Domestic word about Breeding

I'm having a very intriguing experience. Living with roommates is always fun, but lately my roomie's girlfriend has been over pretty much every day, and it's exposed me to a very different dynamic.

My roomie is a guy who works as a DJ under the table, and does a home based health product business. He makes enough to pay the rent, and we get along pretty well, so this isn't a gripe fest. He's a pretty good roomie.

But over the past couple months his girlfriend has been over every day. She sticks around even when he isn't here. For example, it's pretty routine for him to go to the gym every day. If he is at the gym working out, she's scrubbing his bathroom from top to bottom, vaccuming his room, doing his laundry, etc. All of it without being asked. She'll relax and watch TV for a while.  I see her go through the routine of getting all dolled up for him when he comes home, and having food on the table, hot and ready, when he walks in the door. The first few occasions, I thought it was sweet. But over time, it seemed odd to me. I believe that is through no fault of hers - just a huge difference in our upbringing.

See - he works less than 30hrs/week. He does DJ 2-3 nights/week and that's pretty much it. He spends his time going to the gym and working out, or surfing the net for more music.

She aspires to be a Domestic Goddess, keeping the house clean, raising the kids - ya know, the American Dream type (and God knows we DO NEED women with these qualities in the world as much as the go-get-'em professional types).

And then there is me - I've helped boyfriends keep their places up from time to time in my life, but never on a regular, daily basis. I have the mentality of, "This is your space. You're an adult. I'll help when you're overwhelmed or when I feel the urge, but it's not something to expect of me." Then again, I've been working full time since my teens- often more than 1 job at a time. Housekeeping for me is a weekly thing. I do the vaccuming, dusting and laundry about once a week. I cook on the regular and clean the kitchen here nightly, if not daily. I've expected the men I've been with to keep their own space as they like it, the majority of the time. We all get overwhelmed sometimes and need some help, but on a daily basis? Forget it.

I might assume that I'm less helpful than her, less selfless, more self-absorded, etc. But I look at my parents relationship as my model. Since they've been married almost 40 years, and are happier now than I've seen them in a long time, I have to assume they are doing SOMETHING right.

Mom was a Domestic Goddess for 13 years, but had skills as an RN and went back to work when our family hit a financial hicup.
Her mom moved in with us when I was 5, and spent her time working as a daycare provider, or voulenteering in some capacity. When she couldn't do that, then she kept the house up as her way of contributing to the family's success.
Dad traveled for business, but when he was home, his attention was on the family.
When my brother and I wanted something, we always had to earn it. We wrote essays on the Pros and Cons of the thing we wanted. We did chores. We saved up.

So working hard at something with monetary rewards became something vital to both of us. I can't remember a time I haven't been able to support myself. There as about 6 months of my marriage where I supported my little family of 2. Even though I'm working on changing fields, I'm grateful for the skill that I have (CPC -Certified Medical Coder) and I know I can always fall back on it if my more creative persuits don't work. I can't imagine NOT being able to support myself and trusting someone else completely with meeting my monentary needs. It's frightening and seriously doesn't even dawn on me to ask that of someone. Some blame my independent streak on being adopted. Others have just chalked it up to "that's how she is." Whatever the reason, I suppose we all see "partnership" as something different.

Some see it as: "He brings home the bacon and she fries it up!"
Others see it as: "His, Hers, and Ours".
Some see it as both people working hard at jobs, and at home when it needs to be kept up.

I guess I see it as something ever evolving - but sorry guys. NO WAY am I cleaning YOUR bedroom and bathroom DAILY. Personally, I feel that's enabling someone to continue to be a slob, but if I don't live in it, I don't care. It just ain't gonna happen. Even when it's OUR bathroom/bedroom, it's probably NEVER going to be a daily thing...

But you know what 'they' say... "Never say never." Who are 'they' anyway?
I suppose that's the topic for another blog.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Semi-Annual hair cut

Before the semi-annual hair cut - No scissors since March, 2010
For those of you that don't know me personally, some would say I'm a little behind the 8 ball when it comes to the usual "womanly" stuff.

Let's just say the women from Sex in the City would probably be appauled by where I cut corners. So when I'm looking to save money, one of the first things to go are hair cuts.  I was blessed with stick straight, golden blond hair that tends to take a long time to look raggedly, so I only truly go under the scissors about twice a year. This time, my mom sponsored the trip, since I've been in DIRE need of a snip for a while, and I'm effectively paying off my debts.

 After about 2 hrs in the salon, I've gotta say, I can see why women do this more often. A splash of highlights and a little snip-snip-snip and I feel like I've lost 5lbs off my head.

Thanks mom!

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Southern Californian Sunset

Most people think of Southern Californian sunsets as being most spectacular in the clear skies of summer. I beg to differ. I've always loved how the sun sets the clouds on fire.  Yesterday, my parents and I ended up at Pacifica Del Mar for a glass of wine and some sunset viewing. The photos can't do the sight justice...


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tron Night! The Review!

I finally posted a review from Tron Night.

Tron Review

Feel free to read away and sign up for the blog if you're a Disney fan!

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Greetings Programs!
Tonight, I'm heading out to an event I can't wait to attend!

I was one of the lucky few who got a ticket to a sold out Tron event promoting the new movie coming out in December of this year. I'm a big fan of the original Tron. I've been dying for this one to come out since I first got a whiff of it.

Well, actually, that's not entirely true. When someone said they are making a Tron sequel, I could understand the point. I mean, technology has come so far since the original was released. However, I doubted the story would hold up. I really didn't want to see a favorite film butchered for the sake of some cool special effects.

But then I saw the reveal of the new light-cycle... then a trailer... and then I was sold. (Not to mention, my mom went to high school with the Bridges family, so it's always fun to see things Jeff is in.)

So tonight, I'm going to see 20 minutes of the movie in IMAX 3D. I can't wait... T-118 minutes and counting..

Monday, October 25, 2010

The "America's Got Talent" Los Angeles Audition Experience

The tail of my audition sticker - and the mountain of audition paperwork.
Cattle Call - n. Informal

An audition in which a large number of often inexperienced actors or performers try out.

Yesterday, I auditioned for America's Got Talent. I sang Black Velvet for my 90 second audition in front of 5 judges. That was around 2:30pm.

I had been awake since 4am.

I had been standing since 8am.

Walt Disney Concert Hall

That was an experience in and of itself. If you've never been to Hollywood or, like me, have spent limited time there, you might not realize that it's not a glamorous place at all. While it houses a life long dream of mine (to sing inside the most acoustically correct building ever built - Walt Disney Symphony Hall), it's far from a place I'd want to live. While the inside of the Millenium Biltmore is breath taking (sorry - no photography allowed at that point due to it being a live set, but if you watch the show, you'll see some of it I'm sure), it's located in an area with lots of run down shops - right beside million dollar stores. (I forgot where I parked- so I ended up walking around for about an hour after the audition and discovered just how odd this place is.)

Some of the more unusual talents I spotted were Neil Diamond impersonators, Micheal Jackson impersonators, and one that took my attention more than others.

See, once I finally made it to the start of the line, I lined up for a bag check and metal detector check by security. And then I lined up to enter the hotel. (This is when photography and videography was prohibited. Sorry folks!) Then I lined up to have my paperwork reviewed. Finally, I was let into a huge ballroom, known as the "holding room".  When I first entered the holding room, my impression was, "This is the coolest place ever!" Music was pumping at one end of the ballroom. The cameras were rolling. Peoples were dancing, screaming, standing on chairs... At first I thought, "What a great way to keep everyone entertained and to keep their energy up!" Well, it turned out the atmosphere changed after a few minutes. Once the filming was done. The music stopped. Cameras still rolled, but they followed around certain auditioners, with a director advising them to pace, practice, appear nervous, etc. However, this was in stark contrast to the actual atmosphere. Folks were chatting (I met 2 other soloists and chatted it up with them while I decided on a song - that's right, I didn't know what I was going to sing until I got there) and generally there was very little obvious "nerves" floating around. (I'm sure waiting outside the hotel for over an hour left most people too tired or too excited to see a bathroom to be nervous. God knows I be-lined it to the ladies room after all that time in line!) Though I know there is very little "reality" in reality TV, I was surprised to see so much coaching. Nearly everyone filmed was coached by a director walking around. Amazing...

Anyway, after several hours in the holding room, I was called up, with 9 other singers, to be lead to the conference room area. Where we waited some more...

Finally entering into the room, we met the judges. There was a 5 person panel to sing to in a room hardly larger than my condo's living room. My competition? Well, there were 2 opera singers (well trained that sounded great), 1 R&B singer (who was dressed like a rap star, but did Back at One by Brian McKnight really well), and the rest were pretty much amatures. The judges were funny. They made us all laugh, put us at ease, and made the audition a very positive experience. After I heard a few people do show tunes, contemporary music, and opera, I settled on classic rock - Black Velvet (yeah, I didn't know what I was going to sing until I introduced myself). I had a few things prepared, but wanted the judges to remember me, so I gave them something different. (I also wanted to stand out, which is why I choose to wear red instead of the usual black dress).

Audition face!

The 60 seconds of Black Velvet I sang was met with great applause and lots of smiles all around. Several of my fellow singers stopped by to compliment me on their way out (which felt amazing). I actually felt really confident with my audition over all and felt I presented myself well. It's new for me to leave an audition feeling like there was nothing I could have done better. My eye contact was solid. My nerves? Well under control. (In case you're new to my blog - I'm one performer who HATES auditioning.)

This was probably the most positive audition experience I've ever had.

"So?! Did you make it?!"
 The answer is - I don't know, yet. They will do call backs in about a month. This was just the first cut. Then there will be a second cut. The 3rd cut (I'm lead to believe) is in front of the celebrity judges on TV. The show doesn't start shooting until June of 2011, so we'll see how things go.

"But you think you made it?!"
No. That doesn't mean that I didn't totally nail/rock the audition though. Here is the harsh reality of this show: On October 23rd, 2010 (the day before my audition), the judges say 1000 singers. 98% of their auditioners are singers this year.  However, AGT (America's Got Talent) is supposed to be a variety show, so they can't put everyone who nails their audition on. They still have more cities to hit for their auditions. So realistically, yes, I think I did a great job and I'm, for the first time ever, proud of my audition without any real critisim. But I'm also completely at peace with not making it on the show.

To round out the day - I spent the long drive home with a raging "audition hangover". I suppose this is due to the energy expended (emotional, mental, and otherwise) and the fact that I rarely perform on a full stomach. I hadn't brought any snacks and by the time I left the audition, it was about 2:45-3pm, and I hadn't eaten since about 5am. I'd had some water, but couldn't be running to the bathroom and miss my call, so even that was moderate to low. I stopped by a Starbucks (while I was lost and looking for my car afterwards), yet I'm fairly sure the caffine and sugar of my Pumpkin Spice Latte just proved to dehydrate me more. But at least I was awake!

Dehydration + hunger + exhaustion = rest stop break on the way home

Post audition rest break

I'm glad I went through with it and got another audition under my belt - and a window into a world I can't wait to work in.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Flying this Fall

It’s been unseasonably cool this year in Southern California, and I’m loving it. In fact, I’m learning to soak in everything a bit more. As my excitement for the future builds, I take the work of each day, and the ups and downs a bit differently. It’s as if my eyes are more focused on the “big picture” once again. And it feels great to know there is so much of life I’m looking forward to.
I’m not ready to spell out all my dreams on this blog right now, but let’s just say, this pretty much says it all.

It's been a LONG time since I've felt this way. And it feels good.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A new challenge for the week

This past week, I spent a couple great Disney days with a very great friend of mine who was taking a break from life for a while. It was much needed for both of us.

It was awesome... but, that said, part of going to Disneyland "on vacation" (rather than "on a research trip") is ... the FOOD.

We ate Mickey Bars, Churros, New England Clam Chowder in a bread bowl, and these little cup cakes, just to name a few goodies. Between that and the lack of sleep inherint that comes with a short Disneyland vacation, I packed on a few pounds.

So that said, I've developed a new challenge to see me through until Thanksgiving.

No Dining Out!Personally, I see where this will help me meet a lot of my goals. Financially, physically, and otherwise.
We'll see how things roll out. The ONLY exception I'm willing to make is Saturday, October 23rd. I'll be going to Disneyland with my mom (a fellow health nut) so I think we'll be ordering salads most of the time, and/or be splitting.

So one day at a time, I'm fighting my Disney hangover with LOTS of water.  (We got a bit dehydrated, as it was warmer than we expected on Friday, and I've just FINALLY been able to shake a 3 day headache.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Goal met! Now... about that prize...

I've been doing really well with my overtime lately and watching my spending.

Okay, so my 2nd job only lasted a weekend (due to powers beyond my control) and I'm kind of okay with that at the moment. Sure, I'll still keeping my eyes open for something seasonal, but with over 12 hours of overtime in the first 2 weeks of the month, I'm already ahead of my goal. How awesome is that?!

So that said, I am tempted to reward myself with "a little something".

Ya see, for the past several years I've been carring a big red drawstring Disney movie club back pack around the Disney parks. In my circle, it's affectionately refered to as "the obnoxiously red backpack"
Me at DCA in June of 2010

As you can see, it's seen better days. No butts about it. (ha ha ha)

So I'm looking for a new back to become my ultimate theme-park-magazine-research-trip-vacation-park-hopping-buddy!

Originally, I was looking for the sling back design. Something like this:

 but with more pockets for better balance.
Pockets that are easily accesible are a must for the camera and passes and other in-park necessities.
(Water resistance is a definate plus, but I can treat any fabric for that.)
HOWEVER... I recently stumbled across this gem too:
It's NOT the design I was originally looking for, but I could also see myself using this for SO many other things, I can almost justify buying it... in fact, I may just before the night is out.

And then it hit me...
I realized it.
It took me 30 years to do the things most girls/women are conditioned to do early in life -

Am I a slow learner or what?  ;)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tools and Decisions

As you know, if you've been following my blog lately, I've REALLY been working to get out of debt. In fact, last night I looked around at places to move once my debts are all paid off possibly next year. (Now that I'm working from home, I have the freedom to move about the country if I so choose, w/o having to worry about my income changing.)

In looking at my life right now, I'm happy to say I have all the tools to succeed at that. All I have to do is apply myself. My company has approved 60 hr weeks for the foreseeable future, and my second job is also kicking in this week. So I'm currently working 10 hrs/day, 6 days/week, with about 8-10 extra hours slid in there for job #2.

So, here's what all that translates to:

Yes, I'm tired.
No, I can't go to your (fill-in-the-event) unless it's on a sunday.
Yes, I'd love to do lunch or dinner but other than that, I can't really go out unless it's on a Sunday.

But here's the great thing - I hope to owe NO ONE by this time in 2011. Yes, well before the begining of fall, even my car will be paid off (barring any crazy emergencies).

I see clearly how I have been given every tool I need to succeed. It's all about making the plan and working the plan.

I'll admit, the scheduling is tough to deal with. It's only been a week and I'm already having trouble concentrating, but I'm getting through. How? By thinking of all the inspirational people I have in my life - several of which I get to talk to every day. They really help me stay focused AND remind me to take care of myself.

I have learned something great though. Whenever things seem overwhelming, I remember that I don't have to do EVERYTHING all at once. All I have to do is take the next step. And then take the step after that. And the step after that. Things will fall into place.

I'm really starting to get excited about the upcoming phases of my life. (With my debt out of the way, changing fields, moving, and starting a family may be some of the great things I have to look foward to in the upcoming years.)

One foot in front of the other!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Where did this week go?!

It's amazing what happens when you're working 2 jobs, and one of them gives you a ton of overtime. Time really does just FLY!

So here's the latest:
My current day job has authorized all the overtime I can handle until next Tuesday. Then it'll probably drop down to only 2 hrs of OT/week.
I just recieved training for my 2nd job and that's kicking into gear starting next week. Then there is another training phase involved, but I'm sure it'll go smoothly.

What does all this mean?I have little to no social life. I love that I'm getting my debts paid off, and I'm very grateful to have more work than I know what to do with. But I find that when I'm done at the end of the day, my brain is fried. I don't want to leave home. Evenings are usually when I have downtime alone. My roomie is working as a DJ, so he works a lot of late nights. Right about when I'm making dinner, he's leaving, so I have some down time. Problem is, lately I've been getting really bored really quickly. I'd rather be doing something productive than sitting on my butt and watching TV or a movie or something. Last night I crawled in bed around 8pm just because I figured sleeping would be more productive than watching a dvd.

However...This means I'm finally moving forward. I feel like I've been blessed w/ the tools to get out of the rut. All I gotta do is use 'em! So that's what I'm doing now. Using those tools does mean managing time well, and making some sacrifices when it comes to social life - but it also will put the test my commitment to taking care of myself and all the aspects of my health. Currently, I have Sundays blocked off as my day off. Thankfully, I'll also get Monday off since it's a holiday.

A few thoughts about stress...So working like a dog w/ no real vacation scheduled has made me think about stress. How can I help from feeling overwhelmed? Well, I figured it out. I was walking to the store to run some errands on Wednesday and I remembered an old Amy Grant song that helped me out:
"All I ever have to be is what You made me.
Any more or less would be a step out of Your plan.
As you daily recreate me, help me always keep in mind
That I only have to do what I can find."
This was reinforced while I was running on the treadmill. Ya see, when I think of the entire distance or time or number of hills I'm running, I get discouraged. It seems insurmountable. But when I just think about the next step, it suddenly becomes more doable. And before you know it, I've completed whatever the monumental task is.

Keeping inspirational people in my life is even more important right now. Friends and family who ACTIVELY support me have become invaluable to me this past year. I find that I have less and less time, attention, and desire for fly-by-night relationships (friendships or otherwise).

A race is won by putting one foot in front of the other. But it can't be won without a great support team.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tips for Simple Living

I'm a big fan of simplifying. As my life is getting ready to kick into high gear (my second work-from-home coding job starts tomorrow), I'm again appreciating being organized, having a schedule, and a routine. As my dad says -make your plan and work your plan.

So tonight, after I'm done working, I'll be cleaning up, hopefully hanging out with a friend or going to the pool and relaxing before my life is absorbed mostly by my 2 jobs later this week.  (Ah - the cost of financial freedom.)

That said, I ran across a list of reminders for simple living. I'd say I live pretty simply, so I figured I'd tweak the list and share my tips:

1: Pay bills immediately.
As long as a bill is hanging out there in the unpaid category, it occupies mental space. If you can't pay it immediately, make a plan to pay it off and stick to the payment schedule. Budget this in so that you'll know how much play money and savings money you have.

2: Cook at home whenever possible.
Keep your life simple and bring food to work. Cook from home. Know what's in your food. When you do this, you'll feel better physicially, which will leave more mental space to make better choices in other aspects of your life.

3: Spend time outdoors EVERYDAY.
Whether it's sunny or overcast, step outside every day to reconnect with nature. Go for a walk. Go for a bike ride. Just sit by the pool. Whatever. Just get outside and be reminded that there is a great big beautiful world out there. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you get in the tunnel vision of your own tiny piece of it.

4: Celebrate your victories.
One thing I am BIG on is celebrating. Celebrate with friends. Celebrate with loved ones. Find a reason to celebrate your accomplishments, big and small. Take in the view from the mountain top - whether that mountain top is getting through work without killing your co-workers, or something bigger like a graduation. Create occasions worth celebrating.

5: Pay in cash.
Identify a personal spending trouble spot and shift to a cash-only policy for toys. This keeps life very simple. If it's not in your wallet, you can't spend it. It's too easy to lose track of things when all you have to do is swipe a card and sign on the dotted line.

6: Save your "petty" change.
If you buy a bottle of wine for $9.19, pay with a $10 bill, then put the 81 cents change directly into your piggy bank or an old glass jar. You'd be surprised how quickly this adds up (and how handy it is when the chips are down). I've lived off my change jar more times than I care to admit - so it's really been a boon!

7: Empty your trash.
Staring into an overflowing waste basket makes you feel bloated, while an empty receptacle signals that your slate has been cleared, and you're ready to move forward. Odd, I know, but it works. Keep the clutter to a minimum and you'll really feel like you have more space (even if it's just a few more inches).

8: Turn on the ceiling fan. Open the windows!
Not only does this keep the heating/cooling bill down, but getting fresh air circulating is so much healthier than sitting in a stuffy, thermostate controlled room.

9: Daydream daily.
Whether it's before bed or on a lunch break, let yourself daydream. It's completely healthy. "My father believed in as many as six impossible things before breakfast." - Alice in Wonderland.

10: Buy used.
It costs less, cuts down on packaging waste, and no one will know the difference. Second-hand or consignment shops are great places to find clothes, kitchen equipment and even furniture.

11: Disconnect AND reconnect.
Take time every day to disconnect from electronics. That means no TV, no Ipod, no computer screen, no cell phone. NOTHING. Even if it's just 15 minutes before bed. Pick up a book. (This and going outside go hand in hand sometimes). Prove that you're not part of the Matrix and can live unplugged. This will open the way for eye-to-eye contact and genuine engagement with other people.

12: Say hello. Make small talk.
Working at home, I don't see people (other than my roomate) on a regular basis. So I make a commitment to get our several times a day. Even if it's just to get a cup of tea, I try to engage and make small talk w/ people around me, or even the cashier. Even just a few minutes, there is a true art to conversation - and you never know when you'll make someone's day.

What are your simple living tips?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I did it! Pushing the limits!!!!

So today I went to bed late, work up late, and had a bit of a runny nose. SO many signs this isn't going to be a good day, right?

So let me give you a run down of my lunch time:

Me: Ugh, I am so tired. And I'm feeling sick. Do I really need to work out?
Evil Me: Yeah, it's okay. You don't really need to do it today. Good sleep is really helpful to weight loss too. Just go take a nap.
Me: But I didn't really work out yesterday.
Evil Me: You took that bike ride in almost 100 degree heat for about 3 miles! That was a work out!
Me: Not really. I had to stop for lots of street lights. I got a good sweat going, but I hardly got my heart rate up.
Evil Me: But you went to bed late last night, AND overslept this morning, so you probably really need the rest.
Me: True...
Evil Me: And you haven't really been able to concentrate on work. Keep looking up Disney World stuff and Wedding stuff even though you're not even close to getting engaged.
Me: Yeah...
Evil Me: It's not that important to lose weight. Face it. You're never going to have those Xena legs you want anyway.
Me: Well, it's important that I stay healthy, regardless of what my legs look like.
Evil Me: Come on, you don't really need to put on those gym clothes. They could really use a wash anyway. Why not just take today off? Besides, there is nothing on afternoon TV in the gym anyway.
Me: Well, true. It's usually just people in a mocked-up court room who can't get their lives together. Not terribly entertaining - just sad.
Evil Me: Right. And do you really want to listen to your Ipod?
Me: I am getting a little tired of podcasts... but Lou Mongello put out a new one today...
Evil Me: But it's just an interview with Bob Gurr  (Disney Legend for design work - designing just about every vehicle in Disneyland from the opening of the park).  How can you keep a pace up listening to an interview?
Me: Well, ya know, I've underestimated Lou's interviews before. I bet I'll like this one. It'll keep me interested and pass the time...
Evil Me: Wait a minute... you're getting into your gym clothes, just how much time are we talking here?!
Me: I am a little bored with my routine. Maybe I'll do a different program today.
Evil Me: Ugh...

End result?
I listened to the Podcast and found Bob Gurr rather inspirtational. AND... I completed a new program on the tread mill, completing a 3.5 mile jog. Didn't I say I wanted to be able to run a 5k at the end of the year? How about I'm RUNNING 5k's NOW almost daily!

No matter what the scale says on Tuesday, I'm happy w/ my overall healthy progress!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Truth and Gravity

One of my favorite movie quotes of all time:
“Sometimes, the things that may or may not be true are the things that a man needs to believe in the most: that people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money, money and power, mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love, true love, never dies. You remember that, boy. Doesn’t matter if they are true or not. A man should believe in those things because those are the things worth believing in.” - Hub, Secondhand Lions

Just because we don't believe in something, doesn't make it real. I was reminded of this as I pulled up some Christmas music to try and beat the heat.

Let me preface this by saying, I'm like Hub. I choose to believe that life isn't some dark dismal trudge to the grave. Sure, there are tough times, but even those won't last forever. There is always something new to be learned, something to dream about, something to reach for, and something to gain. Yes, there are times when evil seems to triumph, but I believe it won't stay that way for long.  When it comes to holidays, I believe in the spirit behind them. Sure, they are mostly centered around greeting cards, feasting until we pop, or other gifts, but the best gift we can give is our time, love, and attention to those around us. I look for things/people that inspire and move me. That's probably why I'm such a lover of art.

So - to help beat the summer heat, I thought I'd share something a bit Christmassy.

We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
Dear Editor—

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood. - Source

I think believing in the good things in the world - even the good stories - has merit. Afterall, just because you don't believe in gravity, doesn't mean it won't effect you. But it might help you dream about flying every once in a while.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Chances and Changes

First the good news:
 It looks like my temporary roomie and friend (who has often gone by the nickname of Mud) has a new job and will be able to stay on with me. Yeah! I’m relieved that a stranger won’t be moving in. We’ve been under the same roof for over a month now, and haven’t killed each other, so that’s a good sign. In fact, he was really great about helping out while I was laid up. What a friends/family for?

More good news:

I’ve secured a good second job! I’ll be signing on the dotted line next week and will be working from home as an auditor again. While it’s no secret that I don’t love coding – I am grateful for my education in that area. It’s really helped me out and been my bread and butter. Once I get a couple of small debts paid off, I’ll be in good standings.

But today is kinda special -
 It’s rare that you’re aware that a phase of your life is ending and you’re on the cusp of something else. A completely new adventure.
  Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m ready to pack up all the good things in my life – all the good relationships, experiences, etc – and move into something new. I can’t even quite put my finger on it, but something it’s as if I’m slowly becoming aware of things changing. Sure – I have my tough days (like yesterday). But lately I’ve also had this feeling that something new is on its way. I’m at a place where I feel important decisions are coming up in my life. It’s not an anxious place – but rather a nice place of acceptance. It’s like I’m slowly coming to a place where I understand and accept all the experiences that make up me are what they are. No more negative emotions attached to them. They just were what they were – part of my shaping process. It’s a little restless. Not like I’m missing something, but rather I’m ready for a new “home”.

I’m not sure what all this will mean, but I’m interested to see how my story unfolds…

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Never underestimate the power of family

Today, I've been on the verge of being completely overwhelmed. Often times, life doesn't go according to plan. But when those plans gone-awry mean unexpected bills, well, that really sucks a person's soul. Financially drowing is highly restrictive. I'm starving, but I can't pretend it's comfortable.

My parents have been helping me out a lot over the last 6 months. Since it's taken me so long to find a roomie, they've been helping w/ the rent. Then, a monumental tax bill from the IRS... then medical bills... etc etc...

I know what you're thinking: "Aren't there things you could cut back on?" Admittedly, there are 4 things.
#1) Netflix ($9/month)
#2) Limited Basic Cable ($2/month)
#3) Disneyland Annual Pass ($35/month)
#4) Coffee/dining out ($40/month)

Coffee/dining out varies. I rarely go out w/o a coupon, and most of my "coffee" trips are actually "tea" trips, totalling a little over $1 each. These are also not daily.

So cutting out all of that would save me a grand total of $86/month.
While it's a start, it's simply not enough.

Being a single woman working from home - getting "out" and around people is important, but I'd feel a whole lot better about doing it if I weren't gasping for financial air.

I HATE asking for help - especially in the magnitude as it's been lately.  I did just get a small raise which should show up on my next paycheck. I have a headhunter looking for a 2nd job, part time, work from home coding job for me. While I'm reluctant to take a 2nd position that requires me to do more coding from home, if I need to be a hermit for a while to get these off my back, I will.

If it weren't for my parents willingness to help w/ no strings attached, I'm frightened to think of where I'd be today.  Though I feel like I'm drowing in a sea of debt (nearly all of which bankrupcy will not cure), I'm hopeful that, with the continued love, support, and guidance of my family, I won't be drowning for long.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Path back! The final MD's visit!

After four months, this medical saga is coming to a close.

And damn, does it feel good.

Yesterday, I had a meeting w/ my MD where we looked over the wounds (which are healing well - just aren't pretty) and to go over my path report.

So far, here's the list of things they found (and a short description to save ya'll from googling):
Endometriosis - Believed to be caused by an excess of estrogen, this is when endometrial cells (which are natural in the body) grow outside of their usual place. This usually causes pain and is a chief contributor to infertility.
Ovarian Mucinous Cystadenoma - This is a benign tumor that grows.... and grows.... and grows... you get the picture. Usually considered a benign growth with the potential to become malignant. They are filled w/ a thick, gelatinous matter and basically won't stop growing until they are removed.
Adhesions - This can most easily be described as internal scar tissue that connects the affected organ to other parts of the body (surrounding muscle/organs/etc). Often causes pain.
Hemorhagic cyst - A cyst that is being filled w/ blood due to a broken blood vessel on the ovary. They bleed into the ovary and cause pain.

Obviously, keeping that ovary would have been moronic to say the least.

Those were the biggies. Again, the doctor was shocked that I wasn't really in as much pain as he thought I would be. (Then again, it's hard to tell how much pain you're in in this area when you are abstinent.) 
However, the MD also made another discovery:
The other ovary and all my girly/reproductive parts were normal.

What's changed since surgery?

The weight has been falling off. I'm down 6 lbs since my surgery day. 6 lbs in under a month a good, solid, steady weight loss.
The veil has been lifted. I've often felt as though my day to day life was a struggle between my rational mind and my emotional life. As if some veil or cloud of emotions clouded all my judgements. My heavy bouts of anxiety that I coped with just about daily? Nearly gone - or if not gone, easily put into perspective. Living in fear is no way to live. It's so debilitating. But my "I can" attitude seems to come easier now. I feel emotionally stronger and able to handle the ups and downs better.

It's amazing how hormones effect our lives (especially as women). There is a theory that perhaps I haven't had PCOS my whole life. Perhaps it was these tumors growing and growing and this operation has helped my body discover a new normal. It's a little early to tell for certain, but it's stunning to think that the way I've lived and coped for the last 11 years could possibly end now.  I have to admit, I've been in shock about it for a while, but I'm finding that I'm getting happier about it (especially as the weight falls off).
Just wow...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A good day

Yesterday, I'll be honest, stunk.
Someone really managed to push my button, hurt my feelings and make me so angry that I was up until about 3am on Monday...Couple hurt feelings with no physical way to work out the frustration due to my recovery, and I was stewing and pre-occupied all day. But I decided last night that today was going to be different. Today was going to be a good day.

And so far, that's held true! With the day almost 1/2 way over, I suspect it'll continue that way.

So here's the good of the day!
*Got a comment on my last blog about my peircings! It makes my day since cleaning them and laying on them is a bit uncomfortable, and it'll be a process for the next 12 weeks. I've decided they look like they've always been there on me, and that's a good thing. I don't wear earings very often, but I can see myself wearing these all the time.

*Got on the scale and I'm FINALLY back to to my pre-surgery weight! It's taken 2 weeks for all the swelling, water weight, and inflammation to go down. This also surprised me since I had a serious sweet tooth at Disneyland on Sunday. But yesterday I was so ticked off, I hardly ate - so maybe it evened out? (yeah - right!)

*I have several need roommate nibbles! My temporary roomie will be out the end of this month, and the lady I had lined up hasn't gotten back to me for weeks, so I'm assuming she's out of the picture. Thankfully, I've been able to get some pretty great Craigslist hits this time around, so I'm feeling pretty peaceful about having a roomie by the time rent is due.

*I got rid of the ants that attacked Clydas' dog food. Yeah! I'm on the 2nd floor, so insects like ants are rarely a problem, but these guys must have been REALLY hungry.

*Work has been pretty productive today.

Speaking of work, I better get back to it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sleeping with Steel

Maybe I needed a change.

Maybe I'm the type of girl who can't just try a new cut or color when she needs to adjust her look.

Maybe I'm getting a little more edgy in my old age.

Maybe I'm getting some extra courage.

Maybe I was completely impulsive.

Maybe I'm addicted to pain and things peircing my skin after the last few months of getting them on the regular from the MD's offices.

But I have some new steel.

I can't say sleeping on my side is any more confortable, but maybe that's for the best for now.