Thursday, April 9, 2015

THRIVE - March Review

I'm trying to stay accountable to myself for the things I have set out to do. THRIVE is a big word. This is what thriving looked like in March...

1. Read A Book:  I read not one, but THREE books in March!  
  • Being Mortal by Atul Gawande - I read this on Karen's recommendation and I have to say this should be required reading for anyone at or nearing retirement age and ALL doctors! It's a sobering read, but well written and engaging. Check it out.
  • Breathing Room by Lauren Rosenfeld - Essentially this book is a new way of looking at getting rid of the things that are no longer serving you - not just your "stuff" but also your negative thoughts, toxic relationships and other clutter in your life that is holding you back from being your best self. This book took me several months to read. Good information, but not as engaging as I would have liked.
  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo - another recommendation from Karen. It really goes hand-in-hand with Breathing Room and covers a lot of the same concepts. Kondo's difference is that she recommends you get rid of everything and anything in your home that doesn't "spark joy" - that is her measuring stick. And I know if I got rid of everything that didn't "spark joy" a lot of really useful stuff would be out of the door. Like my treadmill, free weights, and exercise ball. What I really did find useful in Kondo's book was a new way of folding clothes. Things fit much better in my drawers now and I can SEE everything! That alone was worth the price of the book.

2.  Try A New Recipe: I did!   Pork with Squash and Apples. Sorry, no photo. I started with a Betty Crocker Slow Cooker recipe that you can find here. Then I tweaked it. On the second try, I had something quite yummy!  I'll try to share it when I have time. 

3.  Declutter:  While reading the two books mentioned above, I tackled most of my winter clothing. A lot went, even a pair of jeans never worn - impulse purchase, totally not me.  Then I took a shot at the Kitchen Desk.

This is the BEFORE photo. The Kitchen desk tends to be a clutter magnet and I have been one of the worst offenders! So I rethought how it should be used (since no paperwork actually happens here, but it is a convenient repository for receipts until bills get paid.)

And here is AFTER.
Believe it or not, the stapler and tape were on the desk in the before photo!  The one file folder is for receipts which I pull out when I pay bills.  The bin under the phone is for paperwork that needs to be shredded - a job that Jay does.

We have a couple of drawers in the front hallway where we save stuff that is destined for charity.  Between those drawers and what I pulled out of my closet and dresser during March, we now have eight boxes waiting to be taken to Care & Share. 

4.  Complete An Unfinished Project:  I am so proud/happy/relieved to announce that Sarah's Kindergarten through 6th Grade School of Life album is DONE!!!  I actually ending up enrolling in "The Finishing Project" at Simple Scrapper for the extra push and accountability to finish this album. So glad I did!

This puppy is 4" thick and very heavy!

The last page created - the Title page.

One of the internal pages that just needed journaling. Definitely old style - no way would I use that paper today!

5. Improve Flexibility - I'm working on it! As of my April 1 measurements, I am a mere 5" away from being able to touch my toes... I was at 8" on January 1st!  My low back and hamstrings are still pretty tight, but this is truly a baby steps kind of goal.

6. Scrapbooking - My Favorite Five - nope, not a single one of the photos I identified in this post were scrapped during the month of March.  They will remain on my list for April, although with all of the travel I have happening this month, I'm not really sure it'll happen this month either.  And that's okay.

7.  Photography - I've been doing my best to keep up with Kim Klassen's "Be Still" class.  Just today I caught up on reviewing all the weekly material, but I haven't done all the weekly photo shoots. Hoping to do some of them in the next week.

8.  Art Journaling - I hate to admit that the prompts from the Documented Life Project and from Artfully Inspired are just not inspiring me to do any art journaling. Maybe I had an off month. Maybe it is the fact that furniture awaiting refinishing has taken over my creative space making it hard to get to my craft table... in any event... there has been no art journaling lately.  I'm actually considering "letting go" of both of these classes (one is free) and looking for another source of weekly inspiration.

9.  On the Wellness front... my "numbers" have definitely been moving in the wrong direction.  But I AM moving more and making healthier eating choices.  Continuing to experience winter weather in March made it difficult - I tend to really crave comfort food (bread, pasta, potatoes, etc.) when it is cold and snowy. I also experienced a nasty fibro flare in March. Hopefully April will be a bit kinder.  I have been attending Tai Chi - only one class left of this session - but by the time class ends, I should be able to get outside for walks!

And here are the March pages from my One Little Word Planner:

Monday, April 6, 2015

Me On Monday

It was a thrifting, catching-up-on-sleep, ham cooking, cleaning, laundry doing, blog reading, hanging with the family, kind of Easter weekend. Trying to catch up with my life after a four day trip to Baltimore for work.  Amazing how three sleepless nights in a hotel can wreak havoc on your ability to get stuff done.

But at least I had this gorgeous view:

Even though it was a holiday weekend, I spent Friday afternoon traveling home and then early evening (missing out on dinner with the family) on a conference call  working on a contract. So here I am today:
Neck deep in final version to version review of a 17 page contract.  And not at all sure when I'll be able to come up for air. Ugh.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Pursuing My Passions - Wellness

This is part 4 in a four part blog series about my passions and how I'm pursuing them this year.  I'm doing this as much to get it all organized and straight in my own mind as to share with you what I've been up to lately and why I've been so absent from blogging. So here goes...

True confessions: 

I am not passionate about exercising. In fact, I mostly hate it.

I am not passionate about eating healthy foods. In fact, I'm rather fond of pizza, chocolate, coca cola, and a variety of other not-so-healthy choices.

I am not passionate about visiting doctors. Self-explanatory, right?

In fact, given the option, I'd rather be crafting, watching television, or reading a book while munching on something sweet, preferably chocolate. So I'm not sure this final installment of "Pursuing My Passions" is really about a passion, as much as it is about life choices and making room for the things that promote wellness. 

Because I am passionate about being as healthy as my body will allow.

I am passionate about being physically and mentally capable of doing the things I enjoy.

I am passionate about honoring my One Little Word - Thrive.

In order to be healthy and physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually capable, I have to make choices and do things that promote a healthy body and mind.  With that in mind, my very specific plans for pursuing wellness this year include:

1. Read 12 new books - at least one per month. You know, to promote a healthy mind.  And if I particularly enjoy a book, maybe I'll even manage to post a review!

Jan: "Written In My Own Heart's Blood" - Book 8 of the Outlander series. Oh yes, I was totally hooked on this series. I started last September and read all 8 books on my Kindle.

Feb: "Where She Went" - the sequel to "If I Stay" which I saw as a movie. I just had to know what happened next! 

2. Try 12 new recipes - at least one per month. And I'm specifically looking for Paleo-friendly, wheat-free recipes that can be incorporated into our family meal planning. Because I do feel better when I'm grain-free. But it is HARD to cook grain-free and still come up with things my family will eat.  If I come up with any winners, I'll try to share.

Jan: Banana Oatmeal cookies - technically oatmeal isn't Paleo (it is a grain) but is one of the lesser evils of the grain family. These are great for a "snack" food for me, but the family doesn't like the gummy texture.

Feb: Chicken & Rice Casserole - again, rice is a grain. But it isn't wheat. And I made this recipe a half dozen times, tweaking it just a bit each time. I have now perfected it. How do I know it is perfect?  Becca ASKED for it while home for Spring break!

3. DeClutter my house - at least one area per month. Because clutter causes me stress. And stress is not conducive to wellness!

Jan: The Office. I moved everything OUT. Then moved back in only what I wanted to keep. I totally rearranged the furniture. And I purged SIXTY ONE pounds of paper! I may not personally have lost weight doing this, but I definitely felt lighter.

The two shopping bags full were taken to work to be shredded - lots of receipts, medical info, cancelled checks... dating back into the 80's!  The recycle bin was filled TWICE and taken to the recycling center. 
Feb: Utensil Drawer in kitchen. Not the silverware drawer that houses forks, knives, spoons. The big drawer under the cooktop that houses things like measuring spoons, can openers, spatulas, etc. I added a drawer organizer, so things don't slide around.  And I got rid of the utensils we don't use. It may be a small area, but it was a big victory!

4. Complete Unfinished Projects - work on at least one a month. What does this have to do with wellness you ask? Well, here's the deal. Those unfinished projects are constantly at the back of my mind. Always whispering to me about how I'm scattered and don't keep my commitments, even to myself. Those unfinished projects make me feel LESS than. And I know if I can finish some of them, there will be BREATHING ROOM in my thoughts for new and exciting projects. So yes, another kind of mental/emotional wellness. And yes, I'm doing it! While I haven't technically "FINISHED" anything yet, I have worked heavily on the girls School of Life albums in both January (remember 40 pages completed while Camping at the Crop) and during February's LOAD challenge (at least 12 of those layouts will be incorporated into the girls' albums - some in more than one!).

I'm tracking those four items along with my One Little Word assignments in a Heidi Swapp calendar/planner (the 2014 version which I picked up last year after seeing it featured in the Big Picture Classes "FUN" class).

 Each month starts with this planner page with pre-printed dates, to do lists, and more. I'm using the dates to note appointments and meetings and mostly covering up the rest with ephemera from the month.
 Then there is a divided page protector, which I'm using for photos, One Little Word assignments, and monthly recaps where appropriate.

 The last page of any given month is this calendar. I'm using it for my Gratitude Practice - to record the best thing that happened that day, or what I am grateful for that day.  I'm using the blank circles to record my book, recipe, declutter, and finish items for the month.

 Not much in the way of ephemera for February...
 I posted that Minion photo on my facebook feed when I was feeling particularly OVER the snow.

 I took a photo of my OLW Vision Board to include in this page. I wasn't feeling the monthly recap at this point.

In addition to all the "Thrive" related things being recorded here, I am actually doing all the One Little Word assignments. Here is the March writing assignment:

 So there you have it. Pursuing Wellness. Not a lot of discussion about losing weight (so far I'm doing miserably on that account) or about exercise. I actually had to back off of some body weight exercises I was trying as they were causing other pains. But Spring is coming. And with it my opportunity to try again and to keep improving. 

How do YOU pursue wellness?

Friday, March 13, 2015

Five Faves

I didn't take many photos in February and the few I did, do not rise to the level of scrap-worthy. So I've decided to dig into the archives.  These are the photos (from 2005 & 2006) I plan to scrap in March:

Dad's Helper


School Project
Sweet Sixteen

Sarah's Tree

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Art Journaling

 A manifestation of my goal to FINISH what I start this year! Some of what looks like bubble wrap print is actually modeling paste applied through a stencil - and very rough and bumpy to the touch.  I wasn't particularly happy with my lettering on this one, but had to go with good enough.

This was a quick messy background which I actually liked as a base. But the prompt when I was doing this was to "cover up the good stuff"...

...So I did! This is my "Thrive" vision board - the February prompt for One Little Word. It is lumpy, wrinkly, and heavily layered. After I had all my magazine cuts glued in place, I went back and painted and stamped with texture and used markers to blend... and I'm kind of in love with the glorious mess I ended up with!

This one is my tribute to Artfully Inspired's "passion" prompt. I'd love to take credit for that gorgeous graphic in the center, but it is actually elements from a digital scrapbooking kit that I printed on photo paper. My attempts at drawing a fiery lady from scratch were, well, not so hot (pun intended). And I love the graphic... it goes so well with the quote.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Scrapbooking Shares

It just occurred to me that I never posted the last of my LOAD Challenge layouts from February! OMG...

For your viewing pleasure....