Thursday, September 20, 2018

Seeing Results

Since starting back to work in August, I've been cycling to work nearly every day. I've had an odd day here or there when I rode the bus, like rainy days, but usually I ride my bike. This gives me ten miles a day, five miles to work and five miles to home. Depending on how fast I go, my Garmin tells me I burn anywhere from 230 - 280 calories with each five miles, so I burn around 500 calories a day by riding my bike (and this afternoon, after I arrived home, I achieved the 1000 miles cycled for the year -- really since June 1).

Also since starting back to work in August, I've stopped eating breakfast. This came about for two reasons: 1) it frees up time in the morning. I used to spend anywhere from a half hour to 45 minutes making the meal and eating the meal. Now I use that time to read or clean the apartment; and 2) I wanted to try the intermittent fasting I'd read about. I was really never all that hungry after waking, and I wanted to try to lose about ten pounds, so the intermittent fasting seemed like a way to deal with both. In not eating breakfast, this saves me about another 500 calories a day. 

The ~500 calories burned cycling added to the ~500 calories not consumed each morning put me into a ~1000 calories deficit each day. At least that's how I think it works. That's what I'm going with. If it's not, well, that's fine. Either way, it does appear the cycling and the no more breakfast are starting to make a difference.

I'm not sure if I've lost any weight since I never weighed myself when I started. My clothes, though, are saying yes, some weight has come off. Everything is looser, a few shirts almost too loose. A dress I bought several years ago was pretty snug through the bosom area, and now it isn't. When I wore it to work the other day, I felt so comfortable in it and enjoyed wearing it all day. When it was snug, I wasn't as comfortable and even a bit self-conscious about how it fit. I also have a dress that was just a smidge too tight through the waist. Now I can zip that baby up with ease. That's such a wonderful feeling.

At first I worried about not eating breakfast. For so long we've been told breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I completely bought into that. Now? Now I believe if a person is truly hungry then yes, eat breakfast. If a person isn't, don't eat breakfast. I eat during a six-hour window, between noon and six pm, and this works for me. There are evenings when I eat a bit later, like if I go out with friends, and if this happens, I simply extend the fast a few hours the next day. I wait to eat my first meal of the day until I truly feel hungry, which is a new eating behavior for me. 

I was actually surprised with how natural the fast/eat system fell into place for me. I really had no issues making this a part of my life, and I'm pretty certain this will continue to be a part of my life. I do think I'll stop by the gym tomorrow and weigh in. I am curious about what I weigh, and I'd like to check back in at the end of the semester to see if there's any significant difference. If not, that's fine. At the very least, the cycling everyday is good for my emotional health -- seeing the Monarch butterflies floating across the air and having a grasshopper flitting alongside make me smile.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Finally, An End of Sorts

So, after an early morning conference call, all I can say is, "I told you so."

I've been telling my husband for a year and a half now that the financial burden was going to be laid on me since I'm the one with the steady, reliable income. He kept insisting we wouldn't be held responsible for the full amount because of his heart attack and unemployment.

After reviewing each of our assets and expenses, the verdict came: one person is in the negative (my husband) and one person is in the positive (me). Because one person is in the positive (me), the full amount owed must be paid.

I told you so.

I told you so.

I told you so.


I mean really, it's not rocket science. It's money owed because someone thought he was smarter than the system and could get away with fudging numbers despite me constantly telling him he was going to cause financial problems for us. Gee, look what happened. Exactly what I said was going to happen.

Even during the conference call, after being told the offer in compromise wasn't going to be accepted, he was sitting there saying, "But, but, but . . .." I am so sick and tired of him trying to wheedle his way out of a situation he created.

Now it's time to set up the payment plan. Now I'll find out if my going minimalist and cutting back on lots of areas in my life will be enough to attack this and get it paid off within two years. I feel like I've put myself in a good position to make this happen, but I'll only truly know once I start paying.

Speaking of paying . . . I will no longer pay Amazon to ship products to my home within a two-day window. I'm canceling my Amazon prime account. I simply can't stomach the amount of money the company takes in, and how little it puts out to help the world. It's shameful, really. So, I'm done with it. And I'm done with ordering things from Amazon. Whatever I think I need I'll order directly from the company that makes it, or I'll go to a store right here in town. I might spend a bit more with this approach, but I'll feel better about where my money is going.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Clean Slate

Thursday, when I knew all of the folders/docs I'd had on my work computer were not going to be recovered, I told a colleague I was going to look at the situation as an opportunity to start with a clean slate. While I lost years of documents that pretty much told the story of my time at the college, do those documents really mean all that much? After all, I've already reached the top rung of the ladder regarding my teaching position -- I cannot go up. Thankfully, I cannot go down, either.

I've reached a holding pattern.

The clean slate just might be exactly what I need to move out of the holding pattern, move along the path that will be the next part of my life journey.

As part of my clean slate state of mind, I went into work yesterday and set to work eliminating things that have been taking up space. I had two boxes of stuff -- trinkets students have given me over the years, pens, markers, paper clips, and a bunch of other little items I no longer need/use/want -- sitting next to one of my chairs (seriously, the boxes have been sitting there for two years, ever since I pulled them from behind my office door with the intention of removing them from my office entirely) that I finally sorted through and whittled down to less than half a box. The rest I put on the donation table that students can visit and take what they might need for school. I pulled more than ten binders off my shelves, emptied them, shredded the docs, then set the binders in a box in the Writing Center, with a note for students to take a binder if they need one. I removed books I've read from my shelves and took them to the book-sharing shelves in the main hallway.

When those things were finished, I rearranged my desk, cleaned my desktop, monitors, tower, and speakers, moved the filing cabinet (which I haven't opened in probably eight years), and took out a chair I don't use except to put my purse on every day (I'm wondering how long it'll be before facilities comes knocking on my door to tell me I can't take furniture out of my office -- they have a thing about us doing that). With the chair gone, I'll have to hang my purse on the back of the door, out of the way, which is what I should have been doing all along. Now, my office looks clean and functional. All the clutter has been removed.

A dash of color and easy care. What's not to like?
The next step is to change out the decor, at the very least what's hanging on the walls. A colleague and I have joked about going into our offices one weekend and painting the walls. Right now the walls are an ugly gray. I like gray walls, but this gray is really uninspiring. In fact, it's downright depressing. I am truly considering buying some paint and at least painting two of the walls. Another thought I had is to buy some removable wallpaper. I bought some for the kitchen as the backsplash over the stove and sink, and I love it. Easy to wipe down and it adds a nice touch to the space.

It's interesting how an uncluttered space affects the mind. For me, it's like a weight lifting off my shoulders. I can breathe. That's how my office now feels, and I'm really looking forward to being in my office tomorrow.

Friday, September 14, 2018

A Day of Many, Many Deep Breaths

Another morning with mist rising up from the bottom of the hillside. As Ado and I walked down the hill, I looked behind us and could see our footsteps in the soggy grass. My shoes soaked through from the dew and sloshed with each step.

On cool days like this, Ado likes to walk faster and is even playful. He'll turn towards me then jump ahead as if he wants to run. He'll turn back to me and grab at his leash, take hold of it and begin prancing along as if he's taking me on a walk. Such a difference from the hot, humid days of summer when he drags himself along behind me.

When we reached the bottom of the hill, we walked around the patch of wildflowers. The spider webs adorning the goldenrod and thistles stood out, the mist having covered them. I really wanted to hang around and see what everything looked like when the sun finally made it above the trees, but I had to be at work a bit earlier than usual since I'd been asked to do a short thesis workshop in a history class. I'm hoping the mist and the spiderwebs are back on display tomorrow morning so I can see how the sunlight interacts with them. I do have an early meeting, but if I'm five or ten minutes late, it won't hurt anything. Nature and all its beauty trump work meetings anytime.

Today work was . . . well, how should I put it . . . a debacle. A planned upgrade to our computers began, which we'd been told would happen. At least everyone but me had been told, it seems. An email went out on Monday saying the upgrade would be taking place, and if we had any questions we were to ask before the upgrade began. A colleague of mine responded, asking what she needed to do before to make sure her files were protected. She received no answer.

Instead, an IT person began going from office to office today, installing the upgrades. I saw him go into my neighbor's office as I sat at my desk just before I had to go do the workshop. I didn't think anything of it (since I'd never received the supposed email about the upgrades -- I've searched and searched for that email -- I never got it!). I left my office, went and did the workshop, then returned to my office and logged back into my computer. When the desktop came up, everything I'd had there was gone. I began searching every drive on the computer. All my folders/files/docs were gone.

I walked down the hall and asked a colleague if she still had all of her folders/files/docs after her computer being upgraded. She logged in to find that whatever she'd had on the desktop and C drive was gone. When I stepped out of her office, I saw said IT person come out of another colleague's office, and I told him about my folders/files/docs being gone. He said they weren't, that they were probably just all in a folder somewhere on my computer. We went back to my office where he began searching. Long story short -- everything is gone.

In the end, nine of us had folders/files/docs lost because of the upgrade. We were told this could have been avoided had we put these on the cloud. We said it could have been avoided had we been properly warned about the upgrade taking place. Every other time an upgrade has happened, we'd been warned to save all folders/files/docs -- whatever -- to the cloud or travel drive. This time, there'd been no warning. Just a temp IT person given a master key to go from office to office to complete the upgrades (a temp IT person who was fired over this -- if I'd not stopped him when I did, he would have kept going to more offices, doing more computers. Personally, I think one or two other individuals should be axed because of this, those over the temp who let him loose without first being sure he knew what he was doing).

I'm still kind of in shock over losing years of work. I'm trying to be a good sport. I'm trying to take responsibility for not putting the work on the cloud. I'm finding both very difficult, though, since I never received the email about the upgrade happening. I know me. If I'd received that email, I would have moved the folders/files/docs to a safe place. I absolutely would have. Just like I did every other time there was an upgrade to my work computer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Hints of Fall

Mist rose from the hillside this morning when Ado and I set out for our walk. The hot days then nights cooling way off effect. The night temps have dipped so much since the rain moved through last week that I've had to wear a sweatshirt for our early morning walks along the still-quiet streets. I love this time of day. Before everything gets hectic. Before someone says something that makes you pause or something happens that makes you just shake your head.

The entire day has been absolutely gorgeous. Sunny but a cool breeze to keep the heat at bay. The sky without a single cloud. Yesterday on my way to work I noted how there were no clouds whatsoever. When I started home later in the afternoon, the clouds had moved in but they were just puffy white fluffs drifting slowly along. Today I figured the same would happen -- clear blue in the morning but fluffy clouds in the afternoon. I was wrong. There are no clouds. Just the blue expanse.

Yesterday Angel Baby arrived home from work to find the screen knocked out of one of the front windows. The screen doesn't fit all that great, but we've been using it so we can keep the window open on these cool days. Sometimes Ado will jump up on the windowsill and knock the screen with one of his massive paws, pushing it out of place, and when he does this, the screen always goes outwards. The weird thing about the screen yesterday was it had been knocked inwards and was lying against the cedar chest underneath the window. Angel Baby texted me to let me know what he found, and when I got home he walked me through what he'd come home to.

I'm pretty sure I know what happened. I've seen a squirrel up on the brick ledge of the window. It walks along the bricks from one side of the window to the other. I think it was on the ledge, got spooked by Ado noticing it from inside and rushing the window, and it ran smack into the window that cranks out rather than slides up. When it ran into the open window, it bounced into the screen, thus pushing the screen inward. Maybe. That's really the only logical scenario I can come up with. Plus, a string of bulbs I have along the ledge to light up the patio area if I'm out after dark had been pushed off the ledge. Three of the bulbs broke. I can see a squirrel doing this more than I can see a person doing it. Besides, if anyone tried to get inside with Ado here, someone he doesn't know, they'd be a bloody mess before it was all over. Still, I really wish I'd been here to actually see what happened.

On our walk this evening, just a sliver of a moon could be seen in the western sky. So thin. The crows were flying to their nightly nesting area over by ISU. I'm always amazed by how many pass overhead. High enough I can't hear their wings. Just silence. A lovely sight against the deepening blue of the sky.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Random Things

My first book on loan arrived. I have a month to read it, so at 227 pages total, that's 7.5 pages a day. I think I can handle that. I read the first page on my walk from the library back to my office, so I only have 6.5 pages left for today's reading. I really enjoyed the first page, so I think the rest of the book will be a fun read.

Yesterday, Lovely Beautiful Daughter dropped by on her way to Goodwill. I tagged along as another goal I'm working on is only buying new used clothing rather than new new clothing. I've winnowed out a lot of clothes from my closet that I never wore or simply no longer liked for whatever reason, so I thought a trip to Goodwill might net me a piece or two I will enjoy wearing. I found a light peach button down with pearl snap buttons and a dark brown corduroy skirt. Both fit really well, and I can't wait to wear the skirt with the boots I bought for my Christmas present last year. The shirt and skirt came to $8. That's a deal.

This evening I enjoyed a dinner with the other Distinguished Professors from my college. Along with our new president. It's really kind of special being part of this group, and I think we have a huge responsibility to be a visible presence for the college. Several are quite outspoken and aren't afraid to speak up about anything and everything, while others are more reserved and tend to listen. I found some of the issues discussed are ones that need to be put to rest, and others need far more attention, more than just a two and a half hour dinner. The new president, though, made it clear he is open to hearing what we have to say, which is a nice change from the way things have been for the last five or six years. The next five and six years it'll be interesting to see how things develop.

To top things off today, a piece I started yesterday just flowed out of my fingertips,  the keys clicking as if I wasn't even telling my fingers what to do. That's such a wonderful feeling. And though it's just a rough draft, a crappy rough draft is better than no draft at all.

Yeah, just some fun random life things.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

How to Spend More Than Planned

After Friday's all-day rain and more rain right up til about noon yesterday, when a break came, I took it. I needed to get out, even if just for a quick trip to Target. I could tell by the traffic at the entrance to the mall area that lots of other people had the same idea. And the store parking lot was the proverbial zoo, with people waiting for parking spaces and drivers getting testy with one another. I thought about turning around and heading home, but I like having a candle lit when I meditate, and my candle had burned all the way down to nearly nothing.

In and out, I promised myself.

Since the bike rack is close to the store entrance, I didn't have to try and find a place to lock up my bike like I have to do at a lot of stores. Points to Target for at least having a proper bike rack for those of us who ride our bikes to go shopping.

Inside the store was way worse than the parking lot. People people everywhere with lots of dodging having to happen just to get to the candles in the home goods section. But I finally made it, and in just a matter of minutes, I had two small candles in hand. Time to go check out and leave the madness.

But you promised Ado a new toy, I heard a voice say. I hesitated, really wanting to leave, but a promise is a promise. So I headed over to the pet section.

Check out the picture frames first. You need to frame that new piece you bought at the art festival two months ago, the voice said. Since I was right there by the frames aisle I stopped and looked at the selection. A gray frame caught my eye. I slid it off the hanger and carried it along with the two candles towards the pet aisle.

Maybe some gummy worms? the voice asked. Seriously? Yes, seriously, the voice responded. I slipped between two women who seemed confused about where to find whatever they were looking for, stepped behind a woman standing in the middle of the aisle while trying to decide what box of granola bars to get, and found the gummy worms. And peach gummy rings. I knew Angel Baby likes those.

Now Ado's toy, the voice said, sounding very pleased with itself. At the pet toys, I picked a gray elephant with a squeaker in its trunk. Ado loves a good squeaker.

As I neared the checkout area, a Target employee was directing shoppers to what might be the best line of the moment. The self-checkout stands had the longest lines, so I scanned the regular checkouts and found one where just one person was nearly finished with her transaction. I asked the cashier to please put all my goods in my pannier, and since I used my own bag, I saved a whopping ten cents on my total. I didn't know Target charged for their plastic bags, so this is good to know for future shopping trips.

Though I ended up with a couple of extra items, the trip to and then home from Target was exactly what I needed after being inside for a day and a half. I know I need outside time just about every day, or I begin to feel jittery. That being said, maybe next time I won't go to a store where I end up spending forty more dollars than I'd planned. Maybe next time I'll just ride the trail until I have expended the pent-up energy. And that being said, Ado really, really likes his gray elephant, and Angel Baby got all excited about the peach gummy rings. So, maybe the extra spending was actually a good thing.