Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'm Back

I'm back from my mini vacation, during which my body succumbed to the cold I've probably been fighting off for most of the month. It reminded me of when I was in college and would work my butt off all semester, only to go home for Spring Break or Winter Break and come down with strep throat or bronchitis within hours of setting foot in my mom's house.

The good news is, while I sound croaky at best, I'm feeling much better. I had a relaxing time in my hometown, which is not something I can usually say about my visits there. Aside from spending some time with my mom and my dad, I didn't make many plans; I just enjoyed whatever came up. I went boating on the St. Lawrence River with friends. I went to bed early and slept in most nights. I practiced yoga and I took a walk. I answered A LOT of questions about my house, my life and my writing. I enjoyed the beauty of spring in my little hometown. I ran into a cousin I hadn't seen in ages. I ate lunch and played Keno with three of my favorite aunts. I had a business meeting with a good friend to set goals for a book proposal we're working on.

It was honestly one of the best trips "home" I've had in a long time. I needed it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

New D.I.S. Post

If you're interested in hearing me go on even more about my exhaustion, and come up with a potential plan of action, you can check out my new post at Damsels in Success.

If not, I completely understand. I'm getting tired of hearing myself talk about how tired I am, too.

Getting By

I'm tired. I'm busy--but doing nothing, it seems. I'm not sleeping well, my mind is on overdrive, and my body is wearing down.

I mentioned last week that I was in a slump, and it's not really getting much better.

I'm taking a break over the long weekend and will hopefully come back to my life refreshed, renewed, refocused, remotivated and relaxed.

In the meantime, any advice you have would be helpful. What do you do when you get into a funk?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Weekend Recap

While I didn't get nearly as much rest as I had hoped or nearly as much done as I'd planned, I spent my weekend:

  • Gabbing with the girls and learning how to scrapbook. Did you know there are machines out there that cut letters in fancy fonts??? And other machines that can make those letters sticky so you don't have to try and get tiny corners with the glue stick? I also discovered that there are people out there who make scrapbook pages that could be considered art. I'm talking creative, artistic, made-with-passion, A.R.T.
  • Catching up with an old friend. There are a lot of people I miss from past seasons in my life and this person is one of them. I'm glad we got to talk over breakfast about everything from God to babies to visions for a better city and how to make them happen. Hanging out with people like this always makes me hungry to do more.
  • At Ikea. My entire afternoon on Saturday was spent browsing and mentally decorating while I meandered through Ikea's showrooms. I got a new area rug and runner/throw rug for my living room, along with a couple of odds and ends. I would have come home with a new chair, too, if I had thought I could fit it into my tiny car and haul it into my house alone...Looks like My Love will have to go with me next time.
  • Redecorating. Sort of. All I really did was put down the new rugs, move my hand-me-down love seats a few inches and shift a table and a plant, but the difference really is amazing. Next step: hang that mirror I bought a few weeks ago and those framed photos I've been meaning to put up since I moved in. Almost a year and a half ago.
  • Clearing the clutter. With the new living room arrangement, I couldn't stand the clutter I'd let build up over the last few weeks of frenzy and laziness. So I cleared, filed, shredded and put away much of the stuff that's been hanging around my coffee table and other surfaces. This also let to a bedroom purge. Since I painted my office, I've had boxes of stuff in my bedroom that I needed to sort through and/or get rid of. I cleared out a lot of it, made a Freecycle pile and put away what I plan to keep.
  • Closet shifting. While I was at it, I moved my sweaters out of my main closet and hung my spring and summer stuff in their place. I also marked several handbags and a few pieces of clothing for that Freecycle pile. In the process, I realized that a few things I'd been avoiding because of weight gain fit me again!
  • Cooking. I got my first fruits--asparagus--of the CSA on Saturday and made a trip to the Farmer's Market on Sunday. The pickings are still a little slim, but I found plenty of salad greens and made a great salad. I steamed some asparagus and made black beans and rice, and jerk turkey burgers for dinner. It was delish and I'm looking forward to eating leftovers this week.
  • Practicing for the reading. The essay I'm reading is about self-image and weight and I'm starting to get nervous about reading it in front of a bunch of strangers and semi-strangers. But in the process of reading it essay out loud for practice, I think I made some edits that create a much stronger piece than before. I'll let you know how it goes.
  • Hanging out with My Love. He had to work most of the weekend, but we got to spend a few hours together Sunday night.
I also did the usual laundry and cleaning routine. I did not mow my lawn or buy seedlings to plant because I knew I wouldn't have time to get to them this week. Is it just me or does it seem that just when you think you've caught up, there's a long list of things that need to be done again?

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, May 16, 2008

TGIF - Seriously People

I'm so glad the weekend is here. I'll be doing lots of fun (and routine) things this weekend, including a girls' night tonight with sushi and scrapbooking and maybe even a movie.

Even more exciting than that is the first CSA pick-up of the season: an asparagus-only harvest! I'm so excited to get some fresh asparagus. I think I can honestly say this is my favorite vegetable and I wait all winter for the first asparagus of the season. (That stuff you get year-round at the grocery store? Not so good.)

The big farmer's market here opened on May 4th, so I'll be making a trip there on Sunday to visit my farmer friends and see what's ready for harvesting. I'm expecting to get some fresh salad greens, more asparagus (I think I'll freeze some), and herb seedlings. I'm planning to expand my herb garden to include rosemary, lavender and cilantro, along with whatever looks good and I think I'll use. Look for awesome recipes and fun food stuff again this year. With lots of produce from the Cromwell Valley CSA and my commitment to One Local Summer, I'm sure food will be a major source of content around here over the next few months. And I might just try another month of La Vida Local if I'm feeling up to the challenge.

With all this fun stuff, my mood's sure to improve after this blah week. Some laughs with the girls and fresh food in the kitchen are sure to beat the doldrums I've been stuck in.

Hope you have a weekend of fun planned, too!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

200th Post

It appears that this is my 200th post here at Writing: My Life. Where has the time gone? I didn't plan a party or anything. Maybe for post 300...

In lieu of a party, please except this round-up of tidbits. It's been a busy week and I haven't been feeling all that "with-it" the last few days.

  • P is offering up wonderful prompts for your free-writing pleasure. And it's completely free. As she says, go there and write your pants off.
  • If you've been visiting my photo-a-day blog, you'll notice there are very few photos. Taking a picture each day and actually getting it posted is a bit more difficult than I thought. As usual, I think I've taken on a bit more than I can handle right now. Go figure.
  • There's still time to sign up for One Local Summer if you're interested. All you have to do is commit to cooking one meal each week from only local ingredients (other than oil, salt and pepper and spices). The deadline to officially join in is May 25th.
  • Have you visited Damsels in Success yet? If not, head over and check it out. Read my first article while you're there and see what other women have to say. Get involved in the conversations going on. It's a great community of women supporting each other along the path to success - whatever that may mean individually.
  • Monday (May 19th) is Open Mic Night for the Baltimore Chapter of Maryland Writers' Association. I'll be reading something (although I haven't decided just what yet). If you're in the area and are interested in checking it out -- or reading something of your own -- we'll be at Ukazoo Books in Towson at 7PM.
  • Jen is preparing for her quickly approaching trip to Rwanda. The 'zine is done, and if you want to get a freshly printed copy, there are a few on sale at Etsy. All sales proceeds will, of course, go to Odette, her daughter Grace, and last-minute trip expenses for Jen's "Girl Power Rwanda Trip."
  • I'm reading The Omnivore's Dilemma and I highly recommend it. I'm learning so much about why our food system works the way it does. And why almost everything you pick up in the supermarket lists high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient. Did you know that corn is in almost everything we eat???
  • The sun is finally shining around here, although I believe it's supposed to rain tomorrow, so it didn't last long. I think this foul weather is affecting my mood. I've got a case of the blahs, but I'm trying to plow through them.
  • Also, for some reason my DSL is running reeeaaalllly slow these days (thanks for nothing yet again, Verizon), so I can't even open two web pages simultaneously without things timing out on me. Would it be completely inappropriate to scream out loud right now?
Hope you're having a brighter week than I am. Happy 200th post!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

BlogHers Act Donation Challenge Results

Thank you to everyone who took the time to leave a comment last week. The comments have been tallied and the donations have been made.

I received 44 comments through yesterday (I decided to count all the comments made) and rounded that up to 50 for good measure. I donated $25 to the Afghan women's project, which received the most votes, and $25 to the AIDS/HIV awareness project in South Africa, which tied for the second most votes with the Nepal clinic -- perfect since I'd planned to donate $25 to the clinic in honor of my mother for Mother's Day.

Once again, thanks for the comments and for helping me decide where to give.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Blogher Acts Donation Challenge

***This is a sticky post and will remain at the top of my blog until my Blogher Acts donation challenge ends on May 9th. Please scroll down for new posts.***

BlogHers Act: Donate Now to Save Women's LivesWhat with my computer issues and a lack of blog-reading time overall, I somehow missed an important campaign going on over at Blogher. The Bloghers Act pledge to raise money and awareness about maternal health around the world has led to a Mother's Day fund-raising challenge. Since I have a mother, I know several mothers, and I hope to be a mother myself one day, maternal health is an issue that directly affects me. Unfortunately, there are women around the world who don't have the options, opportunities and services available to them to ensure their own maternal health, while as a middle-class American, I'm likely to get exactly what I need.

After reading about the different maternal health projects that Blogher is supporting, I decide I definitely wanted to be part of this giving extravaganza. I figured out a few places where I could cut back on spending and set aside a little cash for a good cause. Then I thought, why not get others involved in the process? And a mini donation challenge was born!

Here's how you can help me help mothers around the world:
  1. Stop by and comment (on this post or the current day's post) every day between May 5th and May 9th.

  2. Send all of your friends over to comment, too.

  3. In at least one of your comments, suggest which cause you'd like me to support.
For every comment I receive between May 5th and May 9th, I'll donate $0.10 to one of the Blogher-supported organizations (for a maximum donation of $100). (**UPDATE: I'll donate $1 for each unique commenter during the week.) That means I'll need your help to average 200 comments from unique bloggers per day. That's quite the feat for someone who averages about 15 visitors, and even less commenters, per day. (Note: While you're welcome to comment as many times per day as you'd like, only one comment per unique visitor will be counted toward the total. The goal here is to raise awareness and get as many people involved as possible.)

In addition to helping me raise the funds, I'm going to let you help me decide which organization to donate to. In at least one of your comments, vote to provide noon meals to girls in Burkina Faso, empower women to end HIV/AIDS stigma in South Africa, ensure health care for displaced Darfurians, support a mother and child health clinic in Nepal, or help Afghan women safely deliver healthy babies. They're all worthy causes, so I'll let you choose where the funds go.

Are you in? If so, mark your calendars, set your reminders, start spreading the word. Do whatever you need to do to make sure those comments are flooding in when May 5th rolls around. Let's give mothers around the world the gift of health on Mother's Day.

***This is a sticky post and will remain at the top of my blog until my Blogher Acts donation challenge ends on May 9th. Please scroll down for new posts.***

Another Step

If you haven't noticed (and maybe you haven't because I can't say I've really been writing a whole lot about my writing these days), the writing thing is really taking off for me. While I may not be getting a pile of cash for all of my writing gigs, I'm finding more passion and enjoyment in it, which is success in my book.

On Wednesday, I was invited to join the forum of women professionals over at Damsels in Success. What this means is that there is yet another place where you can read what I have to say, in this case about work, life, business and balance. My first piece (originally published in at Weight of My World) was posted Wednesday. I'm excited to have yet another outlet for my writing and to join such an amazing group of women who are all chasing their dreams and pursuing their passions. Being surrounded by so many women doing what they love and loving what they do motivates me to keep reaching for my goals. And having a support group of people going through, or having been through, similar challenges, struggles and milestones makes those goals seem all that more achievable.

From the Damsels About page:

At Damsels, we agree with the popular notion that, in order to grow something, you have to give it attention. And we want to put the spotlight on YOU... Your fascinating stories, your valuable insights, your ambitious dreams. When you visit Damsels In Success, you should feel that you are in the company of women who listen and share. A Damsels woman is one who wants to hear others' perspective on the professional situations that women have all experienced or witnessed, and she is one who has her own enlightening and curious perspective to share. At the very least, participating in Damsels In Success should be a fun conversation. But we hope it is much more...
There are plenty of resources available at Damsels. You can network with others, search the job database, share your stories, or read about the experiences of others and join in on the conversations. If you're a working woman, whether in an office or at home, Damsels in Success has something for you.

And if nothing else, I hope you'll check out my posts each month. Thanks for reading! You make this writing thing REAL.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #24

If all goes as planned, on Friday I will have completed 6 weeks of consistent exercise and healthy eating. What better time to take a few minutes to make note of the progress I'm making? Yes, I've had a few moments of weakness. Yes, I've skipped my yoga workouts on the weekends more than once. But I'm discovering that it's the big picture that matters, not the little peanut butter binge or the skipped gym trip.

Thirteen Ways I'm Recognizing Real Health and Fitness Progress

1. I'm not beating myself up over that ice cream cone I had last night.

2. I made healthy choices at Ruby Tuesdays and only ate a few of my fries.

3. I've been consistently doing cardio for more than a month and I'm actually looking forward to my workouts again.

4. The scale is being relatively kind.

5. I'm not getting down on myself because my weight loss has been slow.

6. In fact, I'm actually proud that I'm being moderate in my approaches to food and fitness this time around.

7. I actually stop eating when I'm not hungry anymore (most of the time).

8. I tried on two pairs of jeans I haven't worn since Christmas and they actually fit without having to hold my breath.

9. In general, I'm more energetic than I have been in some time.

10. I'm drinking less coffee and diet soda.

11. I'm using less artificial sweetener. In fact, I'm using less sweeteners in general.

12. I can eat chocolate without feeling guilty.

13. I'm speaking kindly to myself every day, no matter what my food and exercise choices.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

BlogHer Acts Donation Challenge Update

Well, we're more than half-way there, and I've tallied 27 comments so far. That means I need more than 70 comments to reach my goal of 100 comments this week (which will mean a $100 donation to a maternal health organization). Please leave a comment today and tomorrow (before midnight EDT) to be included in the final tally.

I've never wanted to spend $100 so badly before! Comment away!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Win a Bike ... and Other Things

I've been catching up on all my blog reading (it seems I'm always catching up but never quite on top of them) and I'm finding some gems out there. Thought I'd share them with you all.

~ Interested in getting more exercise? Courtesy of Lipton White Tea, you can enter to win a new bike over at just by mentioning the contest on your own blog and you can get an extra entry by stumbling his original post, too. You can also win a Lipton-provided bike from InMyHeels just by commenting with a tip about how you stay young. Get a second entry from her by posting about the contest on your own blog (See how I cleverly did that??? Can you tell I want a free bike?)

~ There's an interesting post on universal health care over at BlogHer.

~ Crabby takes on Entitlement over at Cranky Fitness, my new favorite place to commiserate (OK, and get motivated) about exercise and healthy eating.

~ If you're looking for something to do with your economic stimulus check (I just purchased a computer), check out this list of charitable ideas from Britt at BlogHer.

~ Also at BlogHer, Mocha Momma's talkin' about race in an interview with Rita Arens.

~ If you've still got that wedding dress hanging around, or if you're single and bought one with hope and trepidation, Liz Rizzo collected some suggestions on what to do with the thing.

~ Kalyn has me drooling over her Shrimp and Avacado salad.

~ Having joined the CSA (did I officially tell you that?), I'm going to need something to do with all that local produce, so I joined in on One Local Summer at Farm to Philly. I'll be cooking one local meal a week and posting about it here. Interested? There's still time to join.

I think that's enough linky-business for now. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Update on Donation Challenge: Kicking it Up a Notch

OK, the comments are trickling in, and I really appreciate the support I'm getting so far. Unfortunately, I think I may have set my sights a bit high expecting 200 commenters a day. So....I'm going to up the ante a bit.

In addition to my $25 Mother's Day donation in my mother's name, for every unique commenter each day this week (May 5th through May 9th) I'll donate $1 (up to $100) toward the maternal health cause that receives the most votes. Spread the word, shout it from the rooftops, get those comments rolling. Only four days left to raise money for one of these great causes!

Losing My Identity

One of the things I'm most afraid of these days is identity theft. I have good credit, and frankly, I'd like to keep it that way. You'll understand, then, why I freaked out a bit when I received a statement on Friday from an insurance company I'm no longer with regarding a claim from a doctor I've never seen.

I immediately called the insurance company, who had very little information to give me other than that it seemed someone else may have used my insurance information. The representative I spoke with told me the claim was missing a great deal of information and gave me the number for the physician's office so that I could follow up with them. They were closed at 6PM on Friday, so I had nothing to do but research identity theft on the internet and worry all weekend long. I played through every possible scenario, tried to recall if I might have missed shredding one of the old cards and accidentally thrown one away, put a fraud alert on my credit files (just in case) and stressed out to the nth degree. It was like hypochondria for identity theft victims, because every resource I read that was supposed to help me figure out what to do next only made me worry more about how horrible the situation might be.

On Monday morning, before calling to file a police report, I decided to check with the insurance company to find out if they had a fraud department where I could place a fraud alert on the inactive insurance policy. It turns out that they did, so I called them up and explained the situation. This time, the representative looked at the claim and promptly told me that it appeared there had been an error on the insurance company's part. The claim had been mistakenly applied to my policy instead of the actual patient's policy. The representative submitted a request to clear the claim from my inactive policy and I wrote down the reference number that he gave me so that I can follow up in a couple of weeks to make sure everything has been taken care of.

Apparently, there isn't an identity thief out there with my insurance card after all. Thank God. Talk about a wake-up call, though. I'll certainly be very careful about what personal information leaves my house and how it exits. Now, if you need me I'll be shredding.

**Don't forget to comment for a cause. Thanks for your support!**

Monday, May 05, 2008

Bring on the Comments!

Today is the beginning of my BlogHer Acts Donation Challenge. I hope you'll all join in, spread the word on your own blogs and send visitors my way. The more comments I get, the more money I'll be donating to the maternal health cause of your choice. Leave a comment every day, and make sure you vote for your favorite BlogHer Acts maternal health cause. Mother's Day is just around the corner, and I'm excited to be able to donate toward a special cause that will help mothers around the world stay healthy and be the best mothers they can possibly be.

On top of the donation you help me raise, I'll also be donating a gift in my mother's name. When I asked Mom what she wanted or needed this Mother's Day she couldn't think of anything, so I asked how she would feel about me giving a donation to a maternal health cause in her name. After describing the options, my loving, giving Mom was more than willing to give up yet another gift card for Borders or some other possession she didn't really need. Thanks, Mom! In addition to the funds I donate based on the number of comments I receive, I'll be giving $25 to the Nepal clinic in the name of the woman who gave my sister and me life. She was blessed with the opportunity to receive proper health care before, during and after her pregnancies, and now, in her name, many other women and children will have that opportunity as well.

Bring on the comments! I can't wait to give others the Mother's Day gift of health.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Weekend Stuff

Yesterday was the Maryland Writers' Association Writers' Conference. I spent the day networking, learning how to market my books once I write them, getting motivated, learning new strategies for improving my plotting techniques and eating great food. It was a day well-spent.

This morning I got up early and planted some more flowers in my garden, which you can see at my picture-a-day blog. I also took a 3 hour nap. I'm not sure what's going on with that, but I'm exhausted today. Maybe all that social interaction yesterday drained me, or maybe I'm fighting off some illness, but man am I tired. I could honestly have slept all afternoon, but I knew I had freelancing to do and stuff to get done around the house. Plus, I had to prepare for the start of my donation challenge. Don't forget to stop by every day this week and help me raise money for a maternal health cause. And don't forget to vote for your favorite cause, too.

Hope you all had a good weekend!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #23

Times are tight and I've recently committed to a donation of hefty proportions (relative to my personal budget, at least). This week's TT is all about saving the green for my Blogher Acts Maternal Health Donation.

Thirteen Ways I'll be Cutting Back on Spending in May

1. Stop buying sodas or bottles of water from the grocery store, vending machine or gas station. While I've given up soda most of the time, this gets tough on the weekends.

2. Take my lunch to work. Every. Day. No exceptions.

3. Buy only the essentials at the grocery store. No splurges on Larabars, kumquats or Kalamata olives in May.

4. Eat the food that's already in my house.

5. Avoid purchasing any new (or used) books on my long list of books I want. No matter how many coupons I receive from Barnes & Noble or Borders.

6. Make a list of necessaries for Wal-Mart and buy only what's on the list.

7. Limit Wal-Mart trips to twice during the month. (The less I'm there, the less temptation to buy, buy, buy.)

8. Avoid any stores that sell clothes, shoes or handbags.

9. Feed my cat only her "hard" food. (She normally gets 1 packet of rather expensive soft food each evening. Even Gizmo wants to support maternal health causes.)

10. Limit dates with My Love to things we can do for free: movies in, dinner at home, walks in the park, you get the picture.

11. Read the magazines I have instead of buying more each time I enter a book store, grocery store, or other store that sells magazines. (Clearly, I'm addicted.)

12. Take water in a reusable bottle with me to the gym instead of putting a $2 bottle "on my account" every time I go in.

13. Run all my weekend errands in one trip on one day, avoid driving at all on the other day and plan routes to any weekday meetings carefully to save gas (the biggest cash sucker out there).

How are you saving green during these tight economic times?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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