Monday, April 29, 2013

Week #17: Minimalist

I am doing a weekly themed photo project on flickr.  Here are my photos so far.

This week's theme was minimalist, or minimalism.  It is harder to take a minimalist shot than it seems.  Most of my attempts came out with too much going on... too many elements of texture or too many items in the shot.  This weekend Jason moved the shed in our backyard and is remodeling it to become a little surf shack to hold boards and wetsuits and stuff.  This is a shot of some of the wood and door waiting to be put back on the structure.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Inspiration Points

Time for mid-week inspiration.  For my book club we've been reading Hungry, the autobiography of plus-size model Crystal Renn.  She is very smart and insightful, and her story has made me think about body image, size, and "fat acceptance".  Having been a "fat person" for most of my life, I have definitely struggled with body image issues.  Even now, as fit as I have ever been, I still have an overweight BMI.  I will post more about this after book club, but this week's inspiration is to be yourself!  One key to happiness is to just be you, and to accept yourself instead of trying to become what others want or expect you to be.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Week #16: Glass

I am doing a weekly themed photo project on flickr.  Here are my photos so far.  I missed taking a photo last week, week 15.

This week's theme was glass.  I looked for interesting shapes and thought of some round glass pebbles we have in a planter.  After taking the photo I realized there is a cool reflection in the glass, as well.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday in the Garden

Now that it is warming up, our big backyard beckons with beautiful sunshine each afternoon.  We have made many improvements to the yard of our house since we moved in, including a fish pond and vegetable garden.  We have many plants in the ground now, including tomatoes, squash, cucumber, beans, peppers, and artichokes.  We also recently landscaped more around the pond and added plants like lilies and ferns.  I love spending time outdoors and it is a privilege to have such a large area to enjoy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Inspiration Points

I've been feeling under the weather lately.  I think the events in Boston had a strong impact on me.  I think comedian Patton Oswald really summed up my feelings on his facebook page:
...This is a giant planet and we're lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they're pointed towards darkness.  
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago....
 We must stay positive and keep fighting the good fight...

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Project 333 Update: Week 2

Howdy blog readers!

My post about Project 333 has been one of my most popular to date.  I have been meaning to give an update of the 33 pieces I have chosen for April-June, but at two weeks into the second phase I am having a hard time keeping a consistent number of items.  Amazingly, I have donated or put away for future seasons no less than eight of the pieces I originally selected!  I've replaced some of these with either new pieces or other items from my off-season storage bin,  but as of today I have 3 empty slots on my list.

It was harder this time around to decide what items to keep and which to remove, as well, since last time I was starting in the middle of the project and had already been wearing many of the clothes I kept on my list.  I only had to choose which clothes to keep for the next 6 weeks, not the next 3 months.  I agree with the experience of many participants who report that in the weeks before and after the change in phases, one thinks more (indeed, almost thinks obsessively) about one's clothing than during any other time in the project.

I hoped to have photographs of this phase to share by this time, but I want to wait until I have settled on my 33 things!  At this point, I'm not sure whether to just go forward with 30 items, add items from my off-season bin, or use this as an excuse to buy new stuff!  The main question I have is: what (if any) function in my wardrobe did those 4 items serve?  Once I figure that out I'll know how to replace them, or (shockingly) if I even need to replace them at all.

This process of elimination really highlights the true value of joining Project 333.  After selecting my 33 items, and beginning to put them into rotation on a daily basis, I was very quickly able to evaluate if the item was worth keeping and wearing for the next 3 months.  Each of the things I cut from my list had a specific problem that I knew would bug me for the rest of this phase of the project.  In the past, I would just remove the offending item and place it back in my closet, as though the problem wouldn't be an issue the next time I tried to wear it.  Sometimes that makes sense, like in the case of a dress that is too heavy for spring but might be good for fall.  But instead of ignoring real problems, like clothes that don't fit and aren't worth getting tailored, I was able to permanently remove these items from my wardrobe and save the stress of having to deal with the same problem over and over again.  That is the whole point of the project for me - simplify my wardrobe so I spend less time and energy on it overall.

Although I don't have photos yet, here is my still-in-process list for Phase 2, April-June.  Items in bold are ones that I kept in my wardrobe from the first phase (January-March).  Items that were removed after the project started are crossed out, the reason noted, and the replacement item written in.  Things that have yet to be replaced are in italics.
  1. purse
  2. sunglasses
  3. coral chandelier earrings broke (silver hoop earrings)
  4. paper bead necklace pretty, but uncomfortable to wear
  5. silver filigree hoop earrings too heavy (turquoise and coral hoop earrings)
  6. abalone necklace
  7. turquoise scarf
  8. floral scarf
  9. sun hat
  10. denim jacket  too tight across the shoulders
  11. skinny blue jeans
  12. Levi's
  13. tan cords
  14. black long skirt
  15. dk blue denim skirt
  16. green ss tee
  17. coral ss tee
  18. lt grey ss tee
  19. tan ss tee
  20. tan white stripe knit sweater
  21. tan open weave knit sweater
  22. tan wool cardigan
  23. tan cotton cardigan
  24. coral cardigan need different type of sweater (coral crop sweater)
  25. navy cardigan
  26. grey sheath dress not comfortable for spring, save for fall
  27. black dress
  28. navy white scallop dress fabric doesn't wear well (Sessions jacket)
  29. denim tank dress
  30. grey Converse  worn out (light blue Converse)
  31. cork mary jane shoes
  32. black sandals
  33. black flip-flops
As you can see, I have made many changes and notations to my original list.  But each change was a lesson to me about what clothing best suits me, what makes me feel good and flatters my frame.  Having limited choices makes each item need to carry its own weight in my wardrobe.  Those that don't make the cut are easy to eliminate.  I'm kind of curious to see what if anything I need to add back in to complete my 33 things.  I would like to wait another week and see what needs arise.  I already think I could use another top (maybe a t-shirt) and a belt.  I have been borrowing one of Jason's belts and I'm not sure where this fits in the rules but it seems like bending them a bit to me!  I think I am in denial about being fit enough to need  belt.  That was certainly not the case for most of my life.  At any rate, I will update in a week or so when I get my list finalized, and hopefully have pictures to share as well!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Inspiration Points

Here's some wake-up Wednesday inspiration. Hope your week is moving along brightly.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Week #14: Shadow

I am doing a weekly themed photo project on flickr.  Here are my photos so far.

This week's theme was shadow.  As usual, I took this shot in the last daylight hours Sunday.  Although I haven't been taking many pictures lately, I'm grateful for this weekly project to keep me at least thinking about photography!


Sunday, April 7, 2013

2013 Resolutions: March Update and April Goals


This year, I am working on new resolutions each month and am using Gretchen Rubin's monthly resolution system to create and track behaviors that I hope will increase my overall happiness.

I have been quite busy this month.  Spring is always an event packed time of year with the nice change in weather and many birthdays, including my own.  This is, naturally, my favorite time of year.  2013 has certainly been an exciting and productive one so far!

March Update
Back at the beginning of March I wrote that my goal for the month was to change jobs and find a teaching position in the town where I live.

This has been my intention for a while, but the time never seemed quite right and the potential risk of change appeared greater than the reward.  So I waited, and in the process learned many invaluable skills and lessons from at my current job.  I also discovered my unique passion and skill for working with teens with emotional challenges.  I gained years of specialized experience working with this population.

So this last month, when I finally put myself out there to find a new job, who would have thought that not only would I find a position listed within a few days but that the position would require all of my unique talents and experience?  And that it would be at one of my top choice schools at which to work?  So I applied, interviewed, interviewed again, and got the position.

Never in my lifetime have I seen the direct result of intention the reach a goal and the subsequent fulfillment of that goal so dramatically as in this situation.  Nothing about this experience would have gone as well (indeed, may not have happened at all) if I had not set clear goals and intentions from the outset.  Having a clear vision of what I wanted enabled me to see the opportunity when it presented itself, so that I could jump on it.

Another insight I gained from this process is that an opportunity will come along that suits a person when the time is right.  I had wanted to change jobs for a while, but didn't.  If I had left sooner, I wouldn't have the skills necessary for the position I will begin next year.  Again and again, things seem to work out when the time is right.  It's just something to consider when trying to trust your intuition about making a decision.  What is right for others or what seems "correct", may or may not be the best course of action for you.  You have to decide for yourself, and setting intentions about what you want is a good way to help make that choice easier.

April Goals
This month, I am focusing on health.  I have two goals in this area, and the first I've already accomplished!

When I first decided to change jobs, I knew I would need a fallback means of income in order to be comfortable enough to leave my current secure, tenured position.  One morning driving to work I had a lightbulb moment. I have been doing Zumba 1-3 times a week for years.  I love it.  I'm a teacher.  I might like to teach Zumba!

Soon afterward I set my intention in motion by sharing it with my mentors and current instructors.  They were amazingly supportive and helped me to the next leg of my journey.  I was introduced to the lovely Mara, who has been dancing in the same Zumba class as me for years although we've never met.  Funny how that goes in group exercise classes.  Mara was also planning to get her instructor's certificate, and so I was encouraged to join her in Fremont and get mine, as well.

So, yesterday, I did it!  I can call myself on official Zumba instructor!

What I do with it now remains to be seen, because I have to think about what I learned in the training and how I might apply what I've learned to developing my own style, etc.  It's a lot to think about.  I have spent a lot of my life as an "intellectual", and success as an "athlete" is somewhat foreign to me.  I don't trust myself as much in this area, although I have no reason to believe I can't be successful.

My second goal is in an area where I know I can be successful because I have done it before.  Over the course of the past 5-6 years, I have lost about 80 pounds.  A year or so ago, I stopped about 10 pounds short of my goal, because there were just too many other changes in my life and I was working on getting healthy in other ways.  I stopped drinking alcohol, and eventually adopted a gluten-free, vegan diet.  Now, over a year after these major changes and with a greater level of overall fitness, I feel ready to make the necessary changes to lose the last 10-15 pounds to have a healthy BMI.  

My main tool for working on my diet and eating habits is the excellent book, The Complete Beck Diet for Life, which uses a combination of cognitive behavior therapy and portion control to help make better eating choices.  I have an exceptionally healthy diet, especially compared to how I ate for most of my life, but I still have many bad habits that are tied to emotional or mindless eating.  I'd like to get a handle on that stuff once and for all and stop having to think so much about it all the time.  Dr. Beck's book gives great tools to help develop healthy eating habits, in which good choices are second nature and automatic instead of a daily battle.

At the end of the month, I'll update on my progress.  Even if I don't lose any weight, I will hopefully not feel so controlled my my cravings and food in general.  It's more about control over how I approach decisions about food, than actually trying to avoid bad food.  I want to be able to say no to tempting things when I really know I don't want them, instead of giving in to habit or some other kind of emotional eating.  Popchips, you are my biggest enemy!  Those things are so darn addicting...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Inspiration Points

In the middle of spring break.  Enjoying the time off, but feeling unmoored from daily routines.  Trying to spend some time relaxing and some time working on long overdue projects.  Feeling the fresh new energy of spring.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Week #13: Fail!

This week's photo theme is, "whoops, I forgot!"  Seriously, though, I didn't take any photos at all this week.

The theme was actually Technical, mechanical, or machinery, so it wasn't even that difficult. This was a busy week with many changes in routine, and I simply forgot until this morning.

So I'm posting a cute picture of Tiki instead.

I also neglected to complete the Monthly Scavenger Hunt for March.  I really blew it on this one, and hardly thought about it until earlier this week and planned to hustle and finish it, but again other projects and events got in the way.

So, huge fail on the photography this week.  But one of the reasons that I was so preoccupied was due to my March resolutions, which centered around work.  I will update soon with how these resolutions turned out, but let's just say that the effort was worth it!

I'm back on track for this month's scavenger hunt, and this week's photo theme, shadow.