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My Roofscapade

This post is really hard for me to write because this is an embarrassing story. But I figure that you’ll enjoy it and that eventually I’ll be glad I recorded this escapade. Or, in true 21st century fashion, I could call it the roofscapade.

So last week, Rob needed some pie plates, and I needed a beverage shaker bottle. At Bed Bath & Beyond, I saw some stuck-on dial thermometers, and I bought two. I’d been wanting one on my office window and one on the kitchen sink window.

On Friday, I decided that today was the day I’d figure out how to get that thermometer on my own window. I can’t just pop out the screen and put it on because I can’t suction it to the top pane when the window is open, thus covering the top pane, and I can’t put it on the bottom pane when the window is open because then it won’t have room to slide past the screen.

On top of that, the ground in front of my window is uneven, so I can’t put a ladder beneath it–the easiest, most straight-forward way to access the outside of that window.

My only option is to climb up on the roof and stick it on from the outside.

Well, Rob worked Friday night, but that wasn’t gonna stop me. I’m not afraid of heights. I don’t need help to do something other people might think is risky. I’m not scared.

I get the ladder, prop it up against the house, and climb up, thermometer in hand and a paper towel with some Windex on it tucked in my pocket.

Our roof is really steep, so I decided to crab-walk across the roof so I’d have a low center of gravity. I get about 70% of the way to the window and I realize that my office window is just far enough away from the roof with nothing to hold onto that my little plan wouldn’t work.

So I crab-walk back to the ladder, at which point, I realize that I had set the ladder too steeply. Two fears overtake me at this point:

  1. Because the ladder is sticking up over the roof, I’m afraid that standing up tall enough to step over the ladder will make me lose my low center of gravity and I’ll go sliding off the roof.
  2. Because the ladder is so steep, I won’t be able to climb down; climbing over the ladder (if I don’t fall of the roof ala Fear #1) will send the ladder falling backwards.

I’m paralyzed. What the heck am I supposed to do?!

There’s no way I’m jumping off the roof. I’m in the middle of training for a half marathon, and I don’t want an injury to ruin this for me! I could sit there until I could get the neighbor’s or some passerby’s attention to come rearrange the ladder and then spot me. Or I could wait until Rob came home, but he wouldn’t be home until at least 11:30.

At this point, I believe I may have whimpered a bit.

I spent some time willing the neighbors to get thirsty and go to their sink and look out their kitchen window and see me. I prayed they’d go outside and check on their boxer, Evony, who, along with Rowdy, were watching me intently. Rowdy even got a bit worked up, pacing the deck below me and whimpering herself a bit.

I alternated between waving towards the neighbor’s kitchen window so they’d know I wasn’t just hanging out on the roof for funsies, and burying my face in my hands, sobbing.

Finally, I took a deep breath and weighed my options. Banish my (probably) irrational fears and climb down that ladder. Catch someone’s attention. Wait until Rob got home to rescue me. Jump off the roof.

None appealed to me, but I convinced myself enough that the ladder fears were myths to scoot from my perch on the corner of the roof back to the ladder—twice—so twice I crawled to the ladder, realized I was wrong, then crawled back to the spot I’d found on the corner of the house, the spot where I could sit most easily on our steep roof.

I peeked over the east eave, trying to spot the highest ground I could jump to. I tried to remember anything I’d heard about jumping off a building onto the ground without serious injury, but I was pretty sure that all I recalled was movie stunt crap.

I weighed my options again. I could stick it out on the roof until Rob came home. I would crab-walk over to the satellite dish, prop myself against it, and just hang out. That could work.

But I could not waste 6 full hours just sitting on the roof! I had work and relaxing to do and a puppy to feed. Besides, I’m not one to sit on my ass waiting to be rescued.

I resolved that jumping off would be the safest, considering the obvious dangers of the ladder. I decided to turn onto my stomach and slide as far off the roof as I could, getting my feet as close to the ground as possible, then pushing off the roof and hopefully avoid ruining the darn gutter, which was totally in my way.

It still took me several minutes to work up the courage to jump, then several more minutes to make sure my plan of attack was the best way to get down off the roof and avoid breaking a leg. Finally convinced, I turned over and slowly lowered myself, then pushed and landed! Rowdy was on me in an instant, licking my face and almost knocking me over.

I stood up and assessed myself. I only felt pain in the top of my feet, just in front of where my leg joins my foot. Not bad.

So, dear, reader, I survived this adventure without a single scratch. And I even learned a few things along the way.

  • A higher point of view knocks several degrees off of the angle of a ladder leaning against your house. Compensate for this while you’re on the ground or find yourself in my predicament.
  • No matter how independent or confident or self-sufficient you think you might be, don’t climb up onto a roof without someone else there.
  • If you’re taking a risk, you’d better be taking your cell phone. That’d have come in mighty handy when I was up on that roof.
  • (Rob, this one’s for you.) Who needs a stick-on thermometer anyhow. I have a smartphone that will tell me that, and there are two computers in this house that can also tell me how hot or cold it is out there. Not to mention the local radio station, KSMU, that reports the temperature every half-hour.

Oh, speaking of smartphones, I briefly considered taking mine with me up there, but I thought that was stupid. What if I drop it? If I keep it in my front pocket, it would limit my mobility because I wouldn’t be able to bend as much. Why do I need it any way? It would have saved me a lot of grief if I’d brought it. Still, I would have had to weigh which friend I could call who would give me the least grief or be the most understanding.

So… just in case I’m in a bind again, who wants to be my emergency life saver?

Who Loves Cancer?

I saw this bumper sticker the other day. It says, “I Hate Cancer.” It’s stupid.

I know, I know, it’s a fundraiser for a non-profit organization called—not surprisingly—I Hate Cancer. How can I possibly say something against a good organization fighting a terrible disease? Well, I’ll tell you.

It’s a stupid slogan. Because, seriously folks, who loves cancer?

P.S. Same thing about “cancer sucks.” Um, yeah.

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up, P.S.

Be sure to read the first post on this topic, “What I Want To Be When I Grow Up.”

Last fall, I started a job that I really like. I rate part of the TOEFL iBT test that international students or workers have to take to get accepted at universities or certain positions.

This job gives me all the benefits of teaching without any of the rough bits. I get to consider grammar and evaluate language. But I don’t have to defend my scores to students or put up with plagiarism or answer emails. I do have to discuss scores occasionally with the shift leader, but that’s as equals. I get to use the grammatical lingo that students don’t know.

Problem is, you’re allowed only 40 hours a month. I get paid fairly well, but not enough that I can do 40 hours a month. If only I could do it for even 30 hours a week!

What I Want To Be When I Grow Up: A Teacher Looking Back… and Forward

If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up…

at 8-10 years old, I would unravel huge dreams. First, I’d be an astronaut. That’d take some time, but by about 30, I’d be a lawyer, because it’s a really good idea to be a lawyer if you want to be president, and I did. “I’m gonna be the youngest president and the first female.” Don’t ask me how I knew at 8 that the president has to be 35 and that many of them were lawyers.

at 14-18 years old, lots of futures crossed my mind. At one point, I wanted to teach English literature in Germany so that I could live there. For several years, I was going to get my PhD and my MD so I could be a research virologist and discover cures for viral diseases. Later, I decided that one doctorate was more than enough, and I would go to med school so I could have a career where I got to marvel at the intricate wonders of the human body. I even applied to UMKC, Dad’s alma material.

at 18-23, I wanted to teach English and develop my web design skills. Then, Dr. Mark Trevor Smith and Dr. Biava introduced me to the field of linguistics. Noam Chomsky. Descriptive and prescriptive grammar. First and second language acquisition. Dialects, idiolects, regional variations. Language isolates… I could go on and on with the ideas that excited my mind.

by 23, I had started grad school and teaching, and, being quite averse to public speaking, I was all nerves the first day. But something clicked, and I felt right standing up there on the other side of the desk, armed with a plan and expectations.

by 25, I had secured a teaching job in a German university. I would teach English language classes for two years, and have the time of my life while doing it. It was hard, don’t get me wrong, but I learned so much while I was there, from my students, from my colleagues, from my in-laws, from grocery shopping and traveling.

at 28, I hated teaching. I had an awful semester. It wasn’t only the classroom that was bad during that time, but it was easiest to blame. At lunch with a friend, one of those who is blunt and honest and sees you for who you really are, I was told that I obviously hated teaching and I needed to get out, that it was okay. But what else could I do?

by almost 29, I wanted to be a social media virtual assistant, or an online community manager. I had gotten out of my rotten funk about teaching and re-discovered the joys it offers, too.

Now I’m almost 30 and I am trying to work out the future I want and the future Rob and I want and what is best for that, so that I can make it happen. Do I go for any old job, but get security and consistency? Or do I pursue a career with flexibility and frequent developments and new technology, that is still in its infancy, really; one that will satisfy me in other ways than an 8-to-5 would?

Who knows.

Specific Needs in Joplin — May 28, 2011

Short background: I grew up in Neosho, which is about 15 minutes south of Joplin, Missouri. Neosho is a small town, so we teenagers spent a lot of time in Joplin. Now, 11 years after graduation, many of my friends live in Jopin, and my mom does too. I can’t tell you how greatful I am that everyone I know is safe and well, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to help however I can.

Today, I helped a high school friend, Mac, find some work for him and some other ex-Army buddies who are traveling to Joplin from Tennessee. Jacque connected me to Joplin Family Worship Center, who is sending out teams to work through the rubble. While on the phone with Cindy, we talked about need the JFWC has, and I want to help get some of those items from the Springfield area to Joplin.

The especially need items that you don’t want to wear used:

  • bras
  • socks
  • underwear
  • boxers

They also need work items:

  • men’s work boots
  • work gloves
  • duct tape
  • tarps
  • chainsaw bar oil

For their meal ministry—they’re serving food from 9 AM until 8 PM—they need these items:

  • peanut butter and jelly
  • macaroni and cheese
  • cereal

Find the entire list—updated daily—at JFWC.org

So if your office or church wants to help, collect the following items, contact me by commenting, sending me a Facebook message, or calling/texting me at 417.597.3045. I will deliver the items to JFWC next week, either Thursday or Friday—or sooner—depending on how quickly we fill up my car. (Yes, that’s a challenge!)

The Joplin Torndao: Strangers Helping Strangers

I am hearing so many stories of strangers helping strangers in Joplin, both people from Joplin and the surrounding areas and those far away. I am lucky enough to be a one little chain in the link of one of those stories, and here it is.

Tuesday evening, I saw a post on one of the many Joplin tornado relief groups from Tracie in Ohio saying that she needed to get  some specific items to a specific person at MSSU. I know Betsy, who works at MSSU, so I put Tracie and Betsy in contact.

The next morning and without realizing it was the same request, I reposted Betsy’s status update about donations for some plus-sized clothing. One of my brother’s friends from high school, Jacque, responded, and connected me with Becky, who works with Young Life and had just done a clothing drive at Northpark Mall. Becky confirmed that she had the sizes Tracie’s friend needed, so when I got to Joplin (some of this happened while I was traveling from Springfield to Joplin) I passed Becky’s number on to Tracie’s friend in need, who’s name I had found out by this point, was Laura.

Well, at my mom’s apartment in Joplin, the first thing we did was eat the lunch I had brought. Second, I told her I had some phone calls to make. On the off-chance she did, I asked her if she knew Becky. She does! Then I asked if she knew Laura, and she does! Mom knows both of these ladies, one who would help  the other simply because of a post I saw on Facebook.

In the meantime, my sister-in-law Edi and her sister Jesse collecting donations and are mailing them to me to get to Laura in Joplin.

In the meantime, I found out that Tracie doesn’t actually know Laura! She just saw this need that someone has posted online and wanted to help.

In the meantime, Tracie convinced Lane Bryant to break policy and allow her to purchase a gift card from Ohio for Laura in Joplin, which Laura used to buy much-needed bras and two work outfits, since she has to go back to work on Monday.

In the meantime, we are still working to get Laura, who lost everything in this tornado, some more work clothes. Can you help? Here is what she needs

  • size 10 underwear
  • 42DD bras
  • size 24 (or ee) pants
  • 3x shirts
  • size 9 or 9 1/2 shoes

If you can help and you know me personally, message or text me to let me know you have donations. I can deliver them on Saturday when I go down. If you are out of the are and would like to help, post a comment with your email address, send me a Facebook message, or text me at 417.597.3045, and I can give you a shipping address.


Specific Needs in Joplin

source: Chris McCrillis @CumulusMaximus

[ image source ]

Short background: I grew up in Neosho, which is about 15 minutes south of Joplin, Missouri. Neosho is a small town, so we teenagers spent a lot of time in Joplin. Now, 11 years after graduation, many of my friends live in Jopin, and my mom does too. She lived in the Plaza Apartments, actually, which are about a quarter mile NE of the Home Depot, if you’ve seen any pictures of that destruction. She is safe and so is the family cat, Naveed, but she–and everyone–has lost so much. The tornado there is devastating, both physically and emotionally.

I just got off the phone with Besty Leighninger in Joplin who works at MSSU and helped at the Red Cross center there yesterday. She gave me a lot of really great information and I think a blog post is more efficient way to disseminate it than several posts on Facebook or Twitter.

Clothing Donations

Do not take clothing to the Leggett and Platt Athletic Center on the MSSU campus. Those donations need to go to local shelters and churches (see list below).

Places to Take Clothing Donations

Unless otherwise stated, the location is Joplin.

  • The Bridge — 3405 S. Hammons Blvd. 417.206.6886
  • Clothing Drive at Battlefield Mall — going on at least today, May 24 —
  • College Heights Christian Church (also asking for duct tape) — 4311 E. Newman Rd. 417.624.6915
  • College View Baptist Church — 1602 N. Duquesne Rd. 417.781.5025 — Also serving as a 24-hour volunteer service center, so if you need a place to sleep or shower or eat, this is the place to go.
  • Ignite Church (also asking for trash bags) — 710 N. Maiden Ln. 417.438.6840
  • Neosho YMCA — 4701 Chouteau Dr., Neosho, MO, 417.455.9999
  • Neosho Junior and Senior High School — 511 S. Neosho Blvd, Neosho, MO, 417.451.8670

Food Donations

If you are going directly to Joplin or a surrounding area, take fresh fruits and veggies. They have an abundance of chips and Twinkies and packaged food, but when a couple bags of bananas were dropped off at the Red Cross center set up at MSSU, they were gone in minutes.

Don’t forget that food banks will need to be restocked next week and the week after that and the week after that. If you want to get donations to the area but aren’t going yourself, remember big donation centers like Convoy of Hope, but I’ll make trips there if there’s a need.

  • bags of baby carrots
  • veggie trays
  • apples
  • bananas
  • oranges
  • fruit and applesauce cups, along with plastic spoons

Other Needed Items

People who are working through the wreckage of their homes need packing supplies, both flat boxes and packing tape, along with water-proof containers, like Rubbermaid tubs. Trash bags are helpful too.

The Red Cross Greater Ozarks Chapter is asking for diabetic foods and snacks and office supplies like ink pens, as well as paper goods like paper plates and cups. They need an ink cartridge for Brother model MFC-290C printer, and the Safe and Well center in Leggett and Platt Athletic Center needs copy paper. If you are going to Joplin, please drop these off at the Leggett and Platt Athletic Center on the MSSU campus.

You can also take diabetic syringes and medicine to Tim Mitchell at the Family Pharmacy in the Price Cutter on Neosho Blvd and he will get them to where they are needed most in Joplin.

Pillow cases and bedsheets are needed at the MSSU campus relief site at the Health & Sciences Building.

Crazy Debbie’s Fireworks on N. Main is asking for work gloves, flashlights, Tylenol, ziplock bags, batteries. (Per Angela Ducommun via Helen Hale on FB)

Mystery Church (514 S. Main St.) duct tape, disposable plates, cups, silverware.

First Baptist Neosho (12325 E. Hwy. 86; near 71 South at the Hwy 86 Neosho Exit) is asking for the following items: new underwear and socks for both children and adults, stuffed animals and board games for children, new towels, toiletries, and hygiene items.

People need ways to clean up that do not require water. Think face wipes and baby wipes.

Many people will lose their job because their workplace is destroyed and will be struggling financially. Betsy is taking donations for restaurant, fast food, and grocery store gift cards and will get them to people who she knows will use them prudently. Send these donations to me (P.O. Box 14383, Springfield, MO, 65814) and I will forward them to Betsy. Here are places that still have locations standing:

  • Walmart
  • Price Cutter
  • Food 4 Less
  • Aldi
  • McDonald’s
  • Subway
  • Hardee’s
  • Taco Bell
  • Jimmy John’s
  • KFC
  • Olive Garden
  • Logan’s Road House
  • Carino’s
  • Applebee’s
  • Bob Evans
  • Cheddars
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Outback
  • Steak & Shake

People Betsy know have expressed need for the following items. Take these items to College Heights.

  • tarps
  • ropes
  • batteries
  • flashlights
  • battery radios for weather warnings while the power if off
  • disposable cameras to collect data for insurance
  • cordless drills
  • gas for generators
  • bedding
  • mattresses
  • basic furniture
  • small fridges
  • microwaves
  • ice chests filled with Gatorade, water, pop, juice

Finally, listen to these local radio stations to find out on-going specific needs and which shelters have those needs.

Want to Help?

If you’re like me, you’re anxious to get your hands dirty helping, but the area is currently closed down because emergency crews are trying to focus on search and rescue efforts. (Here’s the MODOT map of closed roads. Zoom in on Joplin.) The Neosho YMCA needs help sorting and folding clothes, but give Jenny a call there at 417.451.6508 before you go because we don’t want them to get overwhelmed with too many people.

Other places needing help sorting donations are Forrest Park Baptist Church (725 S. Highview Ave. 417.623.4606) and The Bridge (address above). (Per Aaron Decker on FB)

Volunteers needed at College Heights to help get supplies and water downtown.

How to Support Local Businesses in Springfield

Note June 4, 2012: The post below was sparked by the April 5, 2011 vote which passed and brought a city-wide smoking ban into effect in Springfield, Missouri. We will be voting again tomorrow to decide whether or not the original ban was too strict, so I thought I’d share this post again with an added paragraph at the bottom. Be sure to read the comments!

Tomorrow, Springfield voters will decide whether or not to allow smoking in all indoor public places. I will be voting against the smoking ban, and you should too. Here’s why.

Despite our persistence in believing that restaurants, bars, and our work places are “public,” they are actually private property that the owners open up to the public. Business owners must follow laws to ensure that food they sell is safe, it’s true, but that is where government interference in their business decisions should stop.

Voters should not decide for thousands of business owners whether or not patrons should be allowed to smoke in those private businesses. Let’s look at Mudlounge and Patton Alley Pub.

The owner of Mudlounge decided that their establishment would be smoke free. The owner of Patton Alley decided that their establishment would allow smoking. You, the patron, get to decide which place you’d rather go to for a drink. End of the story: both joints appear to be thriving, despite the different customer segments their smoking rules caters to.

If we pass this ballot measure, voters are making that business decision for every single small business owner in Springfield. The government should make laws to protect its citizens from unsanitary food preparation and handling because it is unreasonable to expect all restaurant owners to understand the intricacies of how diseases spread, how foods spoil, and how to avoid spoilage for all the ingredients they use in food preparation. But the choice to allow smoking or not should be up to the entrepreneur. If your favorite restaurant allows smoking and you don’t like it, you should stop going there and you must tell them why you will be taking your business elsewhere.

Just for the record, I am a non-smoker, and I’ve never been a smoker. I don’t like going out to eat and needing to shower and wash my clothes because we went to a restaurant that allows smoking any more than you do. But I don’t think it’s right nor is it capitalistically healthy for voters to make decisions for small businesses (or even for big businesses) that they can and should be making themselves based on how that relatively basic, binary decision will hurt or stimulate their bottom line. The government should keep its fingers out of this issue, and you should be involved in this issue by voting with your dollars and not in the voting booth.

A yes vote tomorrow says that you know better what business owners need to do to ensure the success of their business. For many voters, it also means a healthier Springfield. But people will continue to choose to smoke; despite all that we know about the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke, people still choose to do it. So instead of making a business decision in the ballot box tomorrow, make a decision on where you take your business. Don’t take that decision away from shop owners.

A no vote tomorrow says that you support local business and the sovereignty of the business owner in the sphere of their own business matters, and it means accepting personal responsibility for the effects of your patronage to certain food and drink establishments, not to mention other retail stores.

Related Articles

Update: From KY3’s website: The smoking ban passed, “11,201 to 9,795. The ordinance will go into effect 60 days after the election results are certified.”

Edit June 4, 2012: First, go read 417 Magazine’s brief summary of what tomorrow’s vote entails. My views on this issue have not changed since I wrote this post. The one thing I would like to add is that I think servers lose big in restaurants where smoking is allowed. They cannot simply go find a job at a non-smoking restaurant or bar; it isn’t that easy, now more than ever. Would hazard pay mitigate their exposure to second-hand smoke? What are some other ways to compensate or protect servers if their restaurant owner decides to allow smoking? Let me know in the comments!

Image source: thanks to Whiskeygonebad on Flickr for licensing the image used above under a Creative Commons attribution-noncommercial-share alike license.

Elephant Versus Humans: Crucifying The Wrong Guy

So the Interwebs is in an uproar against Bob Parsons, the CEO of GoDaddy. Because he posted a video which shows himself and three other big game hunters shooting an elephant, one of three bulls who were destroying a village’s vital crop. PETA are, naturally, very upset. Some people even shame him for vacationing in a poor country who is suffering under a notoriously tyrannical leader*.

I’m upset too.

I’m upset because the death of that elephant has caused so much anger. I’m upset because the death of that animal is being valued above the quality of life and freedoms of those poverty-stricken Zimbabweans, actual human beings who could starve if their cash crop is destroyed. I’m upset because we aren’t recognizing that not only did the death of that animal eliminate a threat to an entire city’s source of income, but it also provided them with meat**. Maybe it’s easy for us Americans as we sit in our nice houses, bellies full, temperature carefully controlled for maximum comfort, as we buy our food from a market which takes us all of five minutes to get to and which requires us to walk maybe 100 steps, from house to car, from car to entrance.

Why don’t we get righteously angry about our government spending millions (billions?) subsidizing high-fructose corn syrup/oil companies/coal companies/other already-filthy-rich companies/people and demand that we help Africa get clean drinking water and basic sanitation? Why doesn’t the free world cry for Mugabe to be deposed? And what about the hungry and poverty stricken in our own country?

If he isn’t already, Parsons—a wealthy man himself—should be helping the people of Zimbabwe in other ways too: donating money for wells, medical supplies, and educational materials, for example. But if the actions of Parsons and his mates—Ian Gloss, Tim Element, and Tony Theiler—depicted and described in that video helped a poor village in Africa—AFRICA, PEOPLE!—survive and fill their bellies, we’re crucifying the wrong guy.


* Why is big game hunting suddenly evil? The rich and powerful have been doing it for centuries, and at least he is targeting problem animals–not completely dissimilar from the problem feral hogs in Missouri.
** Parson’s video is described as graphic for the scenes depicting the Zimbabweans eating the elephant, carcass splayed open so that they might harvest the meat, but I maintain that this is only graphic to those of us who have our food processed for us. Millions of people around the world kill and then dress down their food every day.

2011 New Year’s Resolutions: February Update

Last month, I made some resolutions, some goals. I stated changes I want to make in my life (note: I did not say “changes to be made in my life”). Whatever you want to call them, I call them improvements. And the cold, hard truth is this:

If you want your life to change, you must change your life.

Here are my goals:

  1. I run 3 to 4 times a week (and it makes me feel so good!)
  2. I really like to eat healthy food and will only eat unhealthy food in moderate portions.
  3. I consistently sleep 8 hours a night, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for a productive, focused day.
  4. I spend money purposefully, so that we can travel and save.
  5. I use lists and project planning to manage responsibilities.
  6. I work during work time, so that I can truly enjoy off time.

More for me than you, I am going to write about my progress. I’m not promising to do this at the beginning of each of the next 10 months, but I am doing it today at least.

1. I run 3 to 4 times a week (and it makes me feel so good!)

On the road toward success with this one. I have made myself a schedule (more on that in a little bit), and it includes YMCA time Monday through Friday, alternating between running days and cross-training days, plus weights or yoga alternating too.

I’m feeling some positive changes here for sure. I pretty much hate biking, swimming, weights, and yoga. That is why I am a runner. But the change I’m noticing in just two weeks is that I am actually starting to like swimming, and I like weight lifting if I do it on the exercise ball with free weights (ugh, those dreaded weight machines!). The stationary bike isn’t too bad, but I’m not patient enough or something…/

2. I really like to eat healthy food, and will only eat unhealthy food in moderate portions.

Oh man. This is a roller coaster for me, always has been. I like unhealthy foods, and I like them a lot. But the portion part of this goal is working for me. It’s okay if I eat some delicious sharp cheddar, as long as I eat one serving (1 ounce) a day. I have found a really delicious, healthful breakfast, in part because I hang out a lot with someone else who is trying to be healthy and exerts a lot of influence on me: I absolutely love fresh berries with Greek yogurt, honey and vanilla flavor. Thanks, Sarah!

3. I consistently sleep 8 hours a night, and wake up feeling refreshed and ready for a productive, focused day.

I have a theory on this one. I think my body actually only needs between 6 and 7 hours of sleep a night. If I get 8 or 8 1/2 hours each night for a couple nights, I’ll have a night or two of insomnia and I’ll only get 3 or 4. I need to check my caffeine intake on those insomniac nights, too, and Beth has suggested that it might correspond with no-exercise days, as we typically sleep better when we’ve given our bodies a workout.

The struggle for me here is that I am night owl through and through. I love staying up late and I think if I let my circadian rhythm take over, I’d sleep from 4 AM until 11 or 12 PM every day. But that doesn’t work well if you have appointments to make or errands to run because by the time I’m “up and ready” to go out, it’s 5 or 6 at night, and then it’s getting dark and some businesses are closing. Stupid morning lark world.

4. I spend money purposefully, so that we can travel and save.

I’m doing pretty good with this one, although I have been especially tempted by Kum ‘n Go and their yummy Tornados along with an ice cold Dr. Pepper. I read an article about our cravings and how powerful our mind is, so I’m trying to combat that.

What does that have to do with money? Well, three bucks adds up pretty quickly, and that’s three bucks that isn’t going towards our upcoming trip to Germany or the more distant trip to Japan we’re planning. It’s money that isn’t going towards reducing our debt or increasing our retirement.

It’s always something new with me, and I bet that if I do write another reflective post like this in a month, I’ll have some new thing that I’m craving all the time or wanting to buy. It’s a daily struggle, but it sure does help to see the savings account grow and the debt shrink!

5. I use lists and project planning to manage responsibilities.
6. I work during work time, so that I can truly enjoy off time.

I’m lumping these two together because the way I’ve changed my life in the past month has connected them.

I have made myself a daily schedule, which I am sticking to. It goes something like this and varies by day:

7:30: Go to the Y
9:00: Shower, dress, breakfast
10:00: Personal time (for creativity, personal projects, and housework)
11:30 to 2:30: Office hours and grading (starting with making my daily ToDo list, answering email, grading small assignments, grading major assignments)
2:30 to 4:00: Run errands (e.g. pick up prescription, drop of recycling, return library books)

I really badly want it to work, so I am keeping it flexible. If Rob closes or works a mid, I’ll adjust my schedule so that we get to spend time together.  I don’t have a schedule for Saturday and Sunday. On Monday during personal time, I put all my and Rob’s commitments into my Google Calendar,adjust my schedule above as needed to fit these commitments, then print it off. I keep it on the clipboard I carry in my work bag, and refer to it through out each day.

On one hand, it feels like I’m micromanaging. On the other, I feel such freedom because I have reclaimed my time. I have put work in its proper place. I have put exercise, breakfast, and housework in their proper places. I was even able to veg out this weekend and not feel a single bit guilty about it!

Part of my scheduling is keeping a food and exercise record, and those are helping my track my success on the above health and fitness goals.

And now I have time to do some of the things I have really wanted to do but could never “find the time.” One of my all-time favorite quotes is “You always have the time or money for the things you really want to do.” Whatever you are spending your time or money on must be your highest priority. If I am not spending them on what I want to be my highest priority, then another of my favorite quotes comes to mind: “Time is the coin of your life. Be careful, lest you let someone else spend it for you.” It may be selfish, but I want to spend the coin of my life. I want to buy the life that I want.

Right now, I am pursuing health. Mentally, physically, spiritually. And, for right now, I feel on track. I am making those infamous baby steps, but I am moving towards my goal, not stagnating or distancing myself from it.

And that counts as progress in my book.

Let me be clear. These resolutions are actually actions that I want to absorb as natural, that I want to internalize, that I want to be habits in my life. It’s not something I want to do for a year and then drop for a new resolution. I am serious about making these changes, and every day I struggle with making good choices and making poor choices. But at least I am progressing. That, at the end of the day, motivates me.