Monday, March 5, 2018

Fly By February....

If I thought January went fast,  February upped the game and went warp speed.....
my view of February as it flew on by...

I kind of had a head down, nose to the grindstone attitude this month and while I did things I enjoyed, if you weren't apart of the schedule, I didn't see or talk to you...  I am very sorry about that.  In fact, in the last two days, I've had three messages or voicemails saying "Are you alive?  I haven't heard from you in a bit..."  I need to be better about the balance thing when life is busy or I get behind and am in catch up mode.

Now for the reasons why I went AWOL sorta speak...
Remember last month how I said I had a dental issue, well I had a massive infection along with it, and it has taken a bit to recover from, in terms of getting all of my energy back.  GRRRRRR.  I had to make up client visits at work and study time for my upcoming certification exam, so work has been busier than normal.  Ya and grrr.  The best part about it all, my boss has proven once again that I am working at work nirvana.

I missed a few Winter Training sessions with my Rowing club, but continued to go, even if I was the SLOWEST on the ERGs, which DROVE ME INSANE!!!  I am just about back to my normal pace, however, so it was the right decision to dial it back.  My instructor told me that 1 week of missed rowing takes a minimum of 2 weeks to get back and that's if you just missed sessions, if you were sick or injured, it takes a bit longer.  Using over a hundred muscles at an intense aerobic rate is not for wimps.......

This is how out of sorts life has been, I only read 3 books during February.  I just looked up the books I read and was shocked how low my total was.  :(  However, I did read 'The Dollmaker' by Harriette Simpson Arnow, which is a masterpiece of Appalachian storytelling.  It is, however, one of the most depressing books I have ever read, so be forewarned..

In New Year's Resolution land, I started a 10-15 minute daily practice of Hand Lettering using the template of last month's Creating for Happiness challenge that I did and it was the right decision to tackle something that quite frankly intimidated me.  I made HUGE strides in my lettering and am now really enjoying it.  I still want to take a live class to move me along, but I'm learning and having fun.   I also kept to my water challenge upping my daily goal to 60 ounces of water a day, which I met all but 2 days and even then it was still in the 48 ounces range.  My penny challenge is fun, which I never thought I say about a money goal, but it is...  Progress not Perfection is my motto these days..

I know many of you who read this blog and are in my live are big fans of Miss Bacall, my basset hound, and I wanted to give you a bit of a head's up and a warning.  My girl is getting old, in fact she is the oldest Basset Hound I have ever had and with that age comes some complications.......  She is suffering from congestive heart failure.  She has the reverse sneezing as they call it and it is getting worse.  She is still the happy-go-lucky goofball she has always been, with a bit of added sass these days, but during her fits of reverse sneezing, or wheezing as I call it, she seems a bit uncomfortable.  I'm trying not to be paranoid, but trying to be responsible if she is suffering.  The hardest part of it, knowing my time with this bundle of love wrapped in a basset body is coming to an end.........  This is the only sucky thing about dogs, they don't live as long as humans.....

I hope February found you in a calmer place than it did me.....
and if it didn't I hope you have an end to the crazy soon.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

First one is on the Books...


Are you in shock that you didn't have to wait for 9 months for the next blog?  :)

I thought I would try something this year to keep the posts coming in a consistent manner, a month in review post.  It will be a book review, resolution update and life in review kind of a thing.  It sounded like a good idea in my head so I'm doing it.....

First, did January fly by really fast for you as well?????  It's like I blinked and January was over, however, I did get a lot accomplished.

I signed up thru Salt Lake School District Community Education in partnership with my Rowing Club for Winter Training.  It started on January 17th and it will run thru late March.  On Monday and Wednesday evenings, I go to West High School for ERG/rowing machine training and HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training,  or as I call it weights on speed).  It's kicking my butt in a very good way and more importantly getting me ready to hit the water in late March when the Rowing Season begins.  It's been really fun to reconnect with my rowing buds and has also reminded me how much I LOVE to row.  Resolution, Get outside more.......

In late December, a friend of mine brought to my attention a program called 'Creating for Happiness' which is a creative challenge to get you to form a daily practice.  I have a ton of supplies that I wasn't really using at home or truthfully, at all, so I initially thought this would be a great way to bring value into something I already own.  It turned into something quite a bit more and I'm going to be incredibly brave soon and do a post about my art, including pictures to share more about this 30 day challenge I did in January.   Resolution, Try Something New a Month...

I also challenged myself to drink at least 48 oz of water a day in January (I figured I would start small and set myself up for success) and did not have one day where I did not make my goal and on Rowing training days, it was WAY more.  I did two 'Something to Think About' Journal entries.  I chose them at random and they were very appropriate for the things going on in my life, so Ya a resolution that is being more than I thought it would be.  I am still on schedule for my Penny Savings Challenge, doing 1 week from January, a week from December, and two weeks from March.  Remember my plan was to be flexible on the route, but not on the destination.....  Resolutions, More water, At least 26 'Something to Think About' Journal entries,  Penny savings challenge

Now onto other things....
I read Les Miserable by Victor Hugo in January.  HUGE, HUGE book and could of used a bit of editing (I really could of done without the extensive information and history of the Paris sewers), but if you love the musical, do yourself a favor and read this book.   After that 1300 page plus book, I read a few others, but as I write this none of them are jumping out at me to say, recommend me, so I guess that's the end of that.

Work continues to be Nirvana and I am diligently studying and preparing for my new certification I am undertaking.  So WAHOO!  A happy work life!

I am in shock about the weird, warm, dry winter we are having.  It's quite honestly scaring me about our future water.  By the way, have you heard about the situation in Cape Town, South Africa?  They are running out of water!!  They actually have an end date for water.  It's scary.

I hope you have avoided the flu that has been ravaging the country!  I had a bit of a dental adventure but thanks to a very good dentist/oral surgeon I am well and good now and have avoided the flu, so I can't complain....

I hope 2018 is off to a good start for you...

Monday, January 1, 2018

10 for 2018

Bacall Approved Resolutions!

For some reason, the past couple of years, I have had ten New Year's Resolutions and when I finished writing down my resolutions for 2018, you guessed it....

10 Resolutions!

I keep a list of my Resolutions on my phone and I have them written in a journal so they stay visible to me all year long.  I'm someone who is constantly looking for new ways to improve, expand and enjoy life and resolutions are a way for me to do these things in a concrete way.  

So without further ado, my 2018 Resolutions

1.  At least 26 'Something to Think About' Journal entries.

When the O Magazine first came out, I was a subscriber and every month there was a cardstock tear out with a journal prompt and questions on it.  I saved them every month and put them in a three ring binder thinking that I would do them someday.  I've done maybe 10 of them in the years since and I have close to a hundred.  It's time to use this easy journaling prompt.

2.  Bucket List items

I know you are in shock that this is on my Resolution list again.  Hey, I love this, so it's here to stay and I consider Bucket lists as nothing more than a Life Resolution list so why not make progress every year.  

3.  Get outdoors more!  Hiking, snowshoeing, x-country skiing, rowing, camping, etc.

I LOVE being outside!  I am not always the best at getting out there though....daily life gets in the way, so I thought if I made it more of a focus and even making it a regular part of my workout routine, I would get outside more...  Nature fulfills me in a way that I can not explain and the more the better. 

4.  See if the idea in my head really is a novel

You are either going to think I'm crazy or totally get this, but I have a few characters in my head that want to be in a story.  I've been doing research as the year has come to an end on how to start to write a novel.  I'm going to dedicate a certain amount of time each week and maybe even join a writing group and see what happens.  It may be end up being a short story or novella, but I need to do this...

5.  More water.

I had a hit and miss year with drinking the amount of water that I need.  If I am drinking water at the level my body likes a couple of things happen---1.  I don't drink carbonated drinks and 2. The weight I want to lose is easier and when I'm at a healthy weight, it's easier to maintain.  Plus it's just a healthy thing to do.

6.  Work on my lettering/calligraphy

I follow people on instagram, facebook and blogs who are AMAZING letterers!  I have been downloading practice sheets and such for about a while now, but haven't taken the time to actually start and try this.  I may suck and I may not continue but until I practice on a regular basis and maybe take a class or two, I have no idea whether I can do this or if it's just something that I appreciate.  This is the year I find out.

7.  Try something new every month....a restaurant, activity, etc.

This actually sprung from a couple resolutions of 2017 and I want to keep it going.  It keeps me out of my comfort zone, I'll learn new things and try new food, so this is just good all around.

8.  Find and maintain my Meditation Practice.

A couple of years ago, I made a resolution to meditate every day and I fell in love with meditation.  I did find out that in meditating every day, I lost the reason for it.  It became something I had to do, not needed and wanted.  In my quest last year of self-care, I gravitated to meditation often, but then would not have a formal meditation for a while.  I was massively inconsistent, that's what I want to fix.  Have a formal meditation practice that is practical in its repetition, but not a chore, yet often enough that I don't go 'Why don't I do this more?'  

9. Travel Solo

My only straight carry over from 2017.  I had ideas, but nothing ever got past that in 2017.  For 2018, I have two separate concrete plans.  If one ends up being a solo trip, the other can become a friend/family trip or maybe I'll do it twice.  It will happen this year.

10.  Penny savings challenge

This is a crazy simple savings plan.  I'm not doing this for my main savings, it's a mad money kind of a deal and at the end it's almost $700 saved.  I'm allowing myself flexibility on the schedule but not the participation.  I think the main reason I want to do this is to focus on why I spend the money I do. Intention is becoming a major thing with me and this is a way to examine it in a money sense.

Here's to another year of Resolutions!  
and if you're curious to see how my 2017 ones turned out, I updated the blog that dealt with them and you can read about it, HERE...


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Curled up with a Good Book....

If you read this blog at all, one of the first things you soon realize is that I love to read.  I mean, I LOVE to read.  I have documented multiple reading challenges, books I have loved and books I have loathed in separate posts.  Books have had a significant profile here on my blog.  Since I didn't write much in 2017, I've missed talking about the books I have read, so I thought I would close the year out with some of my favorite books of 2017.

Just FYI, I had a record year of reading...180 books read.  Yes, 180.   I think it was my highest total ever.  Yes, I read almost everyday.  I also read fast.  I don't watch a lot of tv, so ta-da, reading time.  I will also give up sleep to read...

Without further ado, here are my favorites of 2017, 17 of them to be exact....

1.  The Emerald Mile:  The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon by Kevin Fedarko

This book is sooooooo much more than the speed run in a wooden dory boat, it is a love story to the Grand Canyon.  It is a non fiction book that reads like fiction.  I LOVED this book.

2.  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
     and  The Love Song of Miss Quennie Hennessy both by Rachel Joyce

These two were some of the last books I read in 2017 and I inhaled both of them.  They are books about regrets, things not said, things said, life, love, death, moving on and letting go.  They are set in England and filled with some memorable characters.

3.  Trigger Warning:  Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman

I love Neil Gaiman anyway, but this collection is just pure perfection.  Some were created for events, others in tribute to writers that influenced Neil, and others were just stories that needed to be told.  If you are already a Gaiman fan, you will love this, and if you have never read him before, this is a perfect introduction.

4.  Rising Strong by Brene Brown

Have you ever had a book come along at the exact moment you needed it?  This one whacked me upside the head, in a good way, and woke me up.  It resonated with me in how to deal with conflict, emotions and just life.  I have since chatted it up to others and some have liked it and others not so much, but this is my favorite thing about books, you never, ever know when a book will reach your soul..

5.  One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty

I love this book for a couple of reasons, the first is how it came to my attention.  I was at the Mary Chapin Carpenter concert at Red Butte Garden this summer and she mentioned it multiple times as an inspiration for writing....  The second is this line found within the book..'Ever since I was first read to, then started reading to myself, there has never been a line I didn't hear'.  It summed up something I have experienced since I started reading, I hear the characters in my head.  They have distinct voices and it's why I don't always like movie adaptations.....

6.  Antigone by Sophocles

I actually read the trilogy of The Theban Plays by Sophocles this year and liked all of them, but chose Antigone for this line...
'I cannot side with hate.  My nature sides with love.'
This is an ancient play, but it travels through time so well and applies to life now.

7.  Flowers of Evil:  A Selection by Charles Baudelaire

Do not let the title deceive you, this is a beautiful selection of poetry.  I continued with my quest of reading #51-100 books and this was on it.  My favorite poem is "Get Drunk" and trust me, it's not about drinking, it's about diving fully into life.

8.  Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

You may know the author as an actor/comedian from the tv shows 'Parks & Recreation' or 'Master of None' but this is a science  and real life based look at dating and romance today told with humor.  Texting, dating sites and all of the other new ways to find love are examined and how we are kinda missing the point of it all.  Whether you are single or in a relationship, you'll find things to apply to your life.

9.  Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Thank you Melissa Rasmussen for telling me about this brilliant novel!  A updated take of Cupid and Psyche that is just magical.

10.  The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

I adore this book.  Two tales are told simultaneously, one set today and the other, the tale of Rumi, the Sufi mystic.  I don't buy many books anymore, because I would have no room, but this one will have a permanent home wherever I go.

11.  Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

I'm actually recommending the entire African Trilogy, but this is the first one so I will start here.  One of my favorite things about reading is how it makes you realize how we are more alike than different. This novel is set in late 19th century in Nigeria, but it resonates today.

12. The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This book took me completely by surprise!  I am not a graphic novel fan, so when I opened it I almost didn't continue.  I would of MISSED out!!!!

13.  Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

I find Jenny Lawson hilarious.  Others might find her a bit of a potty mouth, so this book comes with a disclaimer, if you don't like swearing--Stay away, stay far away.  I, however, now want a taxidermied raccoon named Rory thanks to this book.

14.  The Gift of Nothing by Patrick McDonnell

This is actually a children's book by the comic who draws 'Mutts' that is simply beautiful and now my favorite gift book.

15.  Some Writer!:  The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

A biography of one of my favorite author.  It's actually a young adult/child's book but adults will love it too!

16.  How to Eat
       How to Sit
       How to Love
       and the entire How to series by Thich Nhat Hanh

I have purse books now and this series is why.  They are little, both in size and length.  They are exerts of the Monk's talks, teachings and other books.  Made in snippet size and sheer perfection.

17.  West with the Night by Beryl Markham

I read a slightly biographical novel about Beryl earlier in the year and then I read her autobiography 'West with the Night' and was reminded that information may be not as polished or organized when written by the source, but the truth will shine so much brighter......

I could go on and on and on about the books I read this year, but will stop now.  My Goodreads to read list still has 175 books on it and I wouldn't have it any other way......

Curled up with a good book,

Saturday, December 30, 2017

December Agreements....

It's the most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Happy Holidays?

Enjoying Holiday Lights at Luminaria


Every couple of years, I find myself struggling to get into the Holiday Spirit.  It has nothing to do with what is going on in my life; it is completely random...

Living in Utah, I am conditioned to expect a White Christmas or at least snow during December..  Some years, it even snows on Christmas!  :).  The weather this year absolutely got to me, dreary, grey and blah, but then at last moment, and while I was driving home, it snowed on Christmas Eve.

I still struggled with Christmas Spirit throughout the entire season, however.  I even began joking that I liked my Grinchy status, so I did something kind of different.

I made  Christmas Agreements.  If you have ever read the book "The Four Agreements" by Miguel Ruiz, you'll know exactly where I am heading with this.  I do 4 Agreements every month, so this wasn't too far out of the realm of normal for me.  I agreed to 4 Christmas activities this month.

#1.  Do something for someone else...

I wish I had taken a photo of the 70 plus stuffed animals that my mom and I knitted throughout 2017 and donated to the Utah Highway Patrol for their Teddy Bear program, but I didn't.  :(. Trust me when I say that they were cute and it felt really good dropping them off!  We also donated to the Road Home Shelter about 40 scarves, hats and gloves.  We enjoy knitting and this was a fun and easy way to give back...and plan to repeat this in 2018.

#2.  Do some sort of Christmas Activity...

There was massive debate and decision making to be done.  How much money to spend, if any at all?  Inside or Outside Activity?  Play, concert, or other art type event?  Decisions, decisions....

The winner.... Luminaria at Thanksgiving Point.  I will admit as I purchased the tickets, I was questioning my choice, but it won because I had never done it and the reviews from people who had gone were positive.

It was cold and a bit windy the night I went, but this was a beautiful thing to do.  You walk the gardens of Thanksgiving Point that have been transformed into a enchanting light display.  There are different sections and even fires throughout to warm your hands.  The craziest part, as you were walking in different sections, they had added scents!  In the Peppermint Alley area, it smelled like peppermint; in the Woodland Forest, pine; Candy Cane Lane, sweet candy (not my favorite...but still cute). You can even meet Reindeer.
A real live REINDEER!

I'm not sure I'll go every year, it is about $20 per person, but I'm going to keep it in my Christmas rotation.  

#3.  Have a Holiday Movie and Christmas Tradition Night

Charlie Brown's Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Frosty, White Christmas, and yes even the Nightmare Before Christmas and Die Hard.....all shows that just say Holiday Spirit.  Over the past couple of years, I have found them all on DVD on sale, because I forget to record them or I'm not home when they are on.  Full proof watching, right?  Well.......last year, I think I only watched White Christmas....  Hence, the Agreement....

Now for the Tradition, every year as a kid, we would make Pomander balls...Oranges with whole cloves pushed into the peel.  Smells amazing, yet I vaguely remember very sore fingers from the cloves.  I had clementines on hand and will never go back.  Same smell, thinner peel!!!  

See the pomander balls? and guess what, I made that wreath!

#4.  Go Downtown.....

Christmas Lights in the Relective Pool

Salt Lake City is known for its Christmas decorations with Temple Square being the crown jewel.  I have a tendency to avoid large mobs of strolling people, so I haven't been downtown to see the lights, window displays, and decorations in YEARS.  The really sad part, I can be downtown, even with traffic in under 10 minutes from my house.......oops.  It is incredibly beautiful and yes, it can be crowded, but it is so worth it.  I parked in City Creek Center's lot and because it was under two hours-free parking.  I need to do this every year....

Busy but not Crazy....and absolutely Beautiful.

I completed my Agreements for Christmas and you know what, it ended up being a Merry Little Christmas after all......

Monday, December 11, 2017

Unintended Consequences

So, how have you been?  I hope well and wonderful!!

It's been a while since I've written and checked in with you......
and the reason why is a bit complicated and at the same time unintended.

As you may remember from my post about my 2017 Resolutions, which was just about my last post!!,  I resolved to spend less time on social media and screen time and I have but in doing so I stayed away from here as well.

I have taken a long look at why I am on social media and my blog.  It took just a second to figure out how I wanted to proceed on Facebook and Instagram, but this took me a while to figure out.

For the first 6 months or so, I didn't even think about writing, I was journaling and doing some writing that needed to be private.  However, around August, I started to think, "I should do a blog entry" but it never went past that.  In October, I thought "Write Melissa" but then that little obnoxious voice said "It's been 10 months since you wrote, it's been too long"......and I listened to the second voice.

As you can tell, the voice that said "Write Melissa!" got more insistent and louder, so here I am, but it took me figuring out why before I could get this going again.  Writing for a audience is different for me than my private journaling and I enjoy doing it, regardless of whether anyone reads this or not.  It's the process, the creativity, and the joy of it, not the responses (although I do appreciate them tremendously!!!).  So with this cleared up in my mind, I was able to write again.

I have no idea how often I will write here, but I know that I will write.

So until next time,

Monday, January 9, 2017

Thanks Dr. Google...

My cat, Meeko, is getting on up there in years.  As best as I can figure, due to her being a feral rescue and the number of years I have been her slave, she is 16 to 17 years old.  She is slowing down, can't jump as high as she used to, and has some areas that are tender and achy.

The hard fact is that she is getting old..and health concerns are starting to appear..

This afternoon, I was hanging in the front room with Bacall when Meeko came in and wanted some affection, but when she jumped up on my lap, her back haunches were decidedly wet and slightly sticky.  As this is an area where she is tender, I was immediately afraid a cyst or something had ruptured, but it was not the case.  Next, I was concerned that she had 'wet her pants' and then had just laid in her own urine, not realizing it.

Needless to say, I was CONCERNED!!!  I immediately started googling loss of bladder control in cats, because my normal vet was closed and I wanted to get an idea of what I was dealing with before I called the emergency vet.  Worst case scenarios started popping up on my screen....

However, Meeko was not acting sick or in pain, in fact, she cruised into the kitchen to try and get some food out of the situation.

Meanwhile, I'm sniffing her wet blanket making sure it wasn't urine.  (Isn't the life of a cat owner glamorous?)  No urine smell....

I take the damp blanket to the washer to throw it in and realize something....
and then burst into laughter, which made Meeko infuriated and annoyed.

A bit of a side story, that is vital for your understanding...
I, for the past number of years, have made my own laundry detergent (non toxic, environmentally friendly and WAY cheaper) and keep it in a 5 gallon bucket near the washer on the floor in the laundry room.  

The lid on my 5 gallon bucket isn't always attached as it could be.  Meeko likes to hang out in the laundry room as an exploring base.

Do you see where this is going?
She jumped on the lid, which flipped off, and in she went.  Fortunately, it was only about a third full, but her bum definitely dunked.  I would of paid big money to witness this event.  The lid flipping, her going in and immediately coming out, then the sauntering off like nothing happened.

Soapy...aka Meeko
I made sure I wiped her off as best as I could, and now that she is dry, her fur on her bum is soft, fluffy and she is static free (hahahahahahahahahaha!)

So Thanks Dr. Google, but it turns out it was just an embarrassing situation for my cat.....

Sleeping with one eye open, cause I laughed....

Fly By February....

If I thought January went fast,  February upped the game and went warp speed..... my view of February as it flew on by... I kind of ha...