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Archive for June, 2009

Ever since I started my weight loss blog, I’ve been writing much less frequently on this one.  Because weight loss is my main focus (almost like a part-time job), it makes sense that I have more to write about that topic than any other.  Still, sometimes I feel badly that this blog, the one I started blogging with, gets pushed back to second-class citizen status.

One thing that seems appropriate to write about here is how I’ve been doing on my quest to “get a life.”  Last August, I wrote a post where I vowed to take back my life and stop living to work instead of just working to live.

I’m happy to report that I am now a reformed workaholic.

It wasn’t easy.  At first I felt like I was really sloughing off on my duties at work.  “I really should go to the play this weekend.” “The students would really like it if I went to that football/basketball/soccer game,” etc.  Instead of feeding into this guilt trip I was laying on myself, I just said no.  I took myself off of the numerous committees I had been serving on and kept only those that I felt were the most important.

Did I feel like I was out of the loop?  Yes.  Did I crave being “in the know” the way I was when I served on lots of different committees and attended tons of school events?  Sure, sometimes.  But that feeling of being slightly out of the dialed in group was well worth the time and energy I found now that I wasn’t spending so much time and effort at work.

It was a strange year for me because CTLB, my best friend at school and one of my best friends in life, left.  I felt a lot lonlier than I had in the past 4 years, when were were “joined at the hip.”  But before you start feeling too sorry for me, I do have an amazing group of friends at school, and we all eat lunch together every day, so it’s not like I sit alone in my classroom and grade papers while I eat a stale sandwich.  (That would never, ever be me, by the way).  We also had a new principal this year, and that made for a lot of changes.  Good changes, but still, there were a lot of things going on this year that left me feeling out of sorts a lot of time time.

But my life outside of the work day was fantastic!  I found that I had tons of free time, and I used it to try new activities, reach out to old friends and make some new ones, spend lots more time with my family, and just enjoy myself by doing whatever I wanted to do – riding my bike, reading a great (or trashy) book, watching movies, cooking, etc.

It seemed idyllic until the school said they were looking for someone to teach a “summer school after school” class.  I saw dollar signs and knew that if I taught the class I would have the money I needed for a down payment on my new car AND I wouldn’t have to work this summer.  So, beginning after February break, I gave up 60 hours+ of free time and taught the class.  (This may not sound like a lot, but this is on top of teaching 5 other classes.  Not to mention grading and prepping for 6 classes).  It is something that I’m glad I did (for the money), but will never do again.  It’s just not worth giving up that much of my life.

All in all, I loved having my life back.  I felt like I was a better teacher because I could look at things from a well rested, happy point of view.  I plan on doing more of the same this coming school year.  Actually, it should be even better because I’m only teaching one honors class, which will dramatically cut down on my paperload.  Can’t wait.

Ok, enough writing, time to get out there and LIVE!

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I was shocked yesterday when I got the NY Times news alert on my iPhone that Michael Jackson had died of a cardiac arrest at the age of 50.  50!  That’s so young, and he seemed to be healthy, at least physically.

Within the last decade of his life, Michael Jackson became a controversial figure.  A joke.  A celebrity that was surrounded by scandal. A person who was so twisted, possibly due to his upbringing at the hands of Joe Jackson.  I don’t want to talk about that Michael Jackson.

But the Michael Jackson I remember, the Michael Jackson who was The King of Pop, will live on in my heart forever.

thriller2 Thriller was the first record I ever owned.  Yes, it was vinyl.  I loved it.  I played it over and over again on the turntable in my room.   My mom even let my sister and me watch the video on MTV.  (We weren’t allowed to watch other videos on MTV because my mom thought they were a bad influence.  Little did she know that every time she left the house to go grocery shopping, MTV was the first channel we tuned to).

Michael Jackson as an artist was phenomenal.  No one can compare to him.  And I’m not talking about his musical abilities, per se, but more about his showmanship.  His dancing! His style.  His verve.  His vision.  We wouldn’t have Usher or Justin Timberlake without Michael.

I am so glad to see that MTV is doing a musical tribute to MJ by putting his videos in rotation.  Lots of radio stations in my area were playing Michael Jackson songs yesterday, even though their format was more alternative rock.

The man was a legend within the music community, and I’m glad that he’s being honored as such.

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Today was the perfect summer day!

The weather was 85 degrees – warm, but not too hot.  Earlier in the week the weather was really overcast, cloudy, and sort of cold.  Not conducive to feeling like you’re on summer vacation.

I started the morning with a WW meeting.  It had been more than a month since I’d gone, and let’s just say the absence showed up on the scale. (To read more about the meeting, check out my weight loss blog).

After WW, I straightened up the house a bit and then went to get the car washed.  The poor thing was disgusting, and I hate driving around like that, especially when the weather is nice.  I always feel so much better when the car is shiny and clean.

Then I headed to my parents’ house to pick up my dad so he could go with me to the nursery to buy some summer flowers for my house.  My dad is an expert gardener and always helps me plant new flowers.  I chose some really beautiful flowers that should do very well.  My house is shaded by two huge trees, which is nice for keeping the heat at bay, but not so great for choosing blooms – most of the flowers I love need full sun.

Window box - this is the view from my front door. Purple colius, yellow begonias, a spider plant (previously planted) and baby's breath ground cover

Window box - this is the view from my front door. Purple colius, yellow begonias, a spider plant (previously planted) and baby's breath ground cover

Front view of the window box

Front view of the window box

Close up of the window box flowers

Close up of the window box flowers

Pots of impatiens for the front stoop

Pots of impatiens for the front stoop

Flower pot and window box

Flower pot and window box

Full front view of my house (on the right)

Full front view of my house (on the right)

Once the flowers start to really take and are in full bloom (within a couple of weeks, I think), I’ll make sure to post updated pictures.  I love flowers, and I think this is definitely one of the harbingers of summer for me – planting the flowers in the front of the yard.  I love going out every other day (or so, depending on the weather) and watering the plants – there’s something very nurturing about it.  Just like cooking. It’s part of what makes a house a home.

After the flowers were planted, I made lunch for my dad and then brought him home once we had finished eating.  I love spending time with him this way.  He’s in his element outside, and he has so much expertise, so it’s really nice to be able to learn a bit from him about one of the things he loves.

When I got home, I decided that I’d take a short bike ride to the library to pick up the books I had requested.  Nothing is better than getting that email notification from the library telling you that you’re books are on hold.  Love it!  I didn’t realize that I had ordered quite so many books, though.  I had 9 hardcovers to fit into my bike basket!  Luckily it’s big enough, so everything fit – just barely.  It was great to bike the 2.6 miles roundtrip because it was just enough of a workout to get my blood pumping and make me feel alive.

Now I’m about to get ready to go out to dinner at Thea, one of my favorite Greek restaurants, with one of my old high school pals.  I’m so glad that she and I reconnected a few months ago because I really missed our friendship.  The thing is, nothing really happened – we just lost touch after high school as it’s so easy to do.  Thankfully, we found each other on Facebook (gotta love social networking sites!) and have gotten together about once a month ever since.

All in all, a wonderful summer day – I hope to have many, many more just like this one.

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2nd Time’s the Charm?

I’ve decided that I’m going to quit smoking.

Notice that I didn’t say I’m going to TRY to quit smoking.  Because trying isn’t doing, and this time, I’m doing it.  I have set my “quit date” for July 3rd, the day after my birthday.  Because who wants to be cranky on her birthday, right?

Not that I’ll be cranky, necessarily, but I do think I’ll have a few moments of “I’ve gotta have a cig right now” somewhere along the line.  I’m going to follow some of the great tips and ideas given to me from the Kaiser Smoking Cessation Program that I went to last year when I attempted to quit.  That time it didn’t take because I wasn’t ready.  I did it because I friend wanted to, and that never works.  Just like losing weight, quitting smoking has to be something that YOU decide to do for yourself – it’ll never work until YOU want it to.

And I do want it.  As much as I enjoy smoking, I want to quit because:

  • I hate feeling like a social pariah.
  • None of my friends or family smokes.  Once in a while a couple of friends will have one along with me, but by and large, I’m the only smoker I know.
  • I hate that “monkey on the back” feeling that I get after I haven’t smoked for 6-7 hours (while I’m at school).  It’s like I can no longer concentrate on anything because I need to smoke.  I am really looking forward to not feeling like that.
  • I am getting a new car in August, and I DO NOT want to smoke inside it.  It might sound easy to just “not smoke in the car,” but because of my job, smoking in the car is the only chance I get to smoke for most of the day.  This is going to be a huge habit to break, probably the hardest.  But it will be so worth it not to have ashes everywhere and that pervasive smell of smoke.
  • Speaking of smell, I can’t wait not to smell like smoke all the time.  Because no matter how many perfumes and body sprays I use, I can always smell the smoke on me.  And if I can, so can others.  Yuck!

no_smoking_signSo, July 3rd – QUIT DAY.

Until then, I’m trying to shake up the routine and cut back on the cigs I do smoke.  I’ve also started taking the Wellbutrin, which is supposed to aid in cutting back.  I also have my patches ready to go. I’m hoping that my increased activity this summer will help me take my mind off of smoking.

I know I’ll be posting all about it, so stay tuned.

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Lately, I’ve been hearing that question a lot.  This is the first summer where I haven’t signed up to work, and I couldn’t be happier.  I’m looking forward to actually getting one of the full benefits of teaching – an entire 2-month period of time off.

My mom in particular is worried that I’ll get bored.  She knows me too well, because when I get bored, I start to spend money.  What better way to ebb boredom than to go shopping, right?  Well, not this summer.

This summer I plan to do nothing.

And by “nothing,” I mean that the plan is no plan. Nothing too specific. Mornings spent reading the newspaper while sipping coffee. Walking. Working out. Swimming. Biking. Lots if activity & focus on weight loss. Keeping the house super clean and organized. Feeling like every day is a Saturday, even when it’s Tuesday.  Thursday morning WW meetings. Seeing friends. Buying produce and flowers from the farmers market every Friday. Overusing my Netflix queue. Music in the Park. Cooking healthy, delicious meals for myself every day. Laying in the sun reading a captivating book. Shopping, but trying not to spend too much $.  Starlight Cinema.  Buying a new car in August when my current lease is up.  (I’m thinking a VW Beetle convertible would suit me perfectly).  A tiny bit if tweaking my current curriculum. And lots and lots of writing on this blog and BellaOnTheBeach.

Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.

— Henry James

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41T0kiR6-2L I just finished one of the best books I have read in a long time.  It’s called I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci.  I could relate to everything in this book – the bad dates/relationships, the love of cooking, the Italian-American (half Sicilian, mind you) culture – all of it.

The book is a combination smart chick-lit, recipe book.  The pairing works fantastically well, as do the menus she provides throughout the book.  Anyone who knows an Italian will tell you that one of the ways we show our love is through food.  The idea for the book was inspired.

Melucci’s style is a great mix of sarcastic, self-deprecating, and so, so humorous.  Her down-to-earth style reminds me a bit of myself.  This is the type of book I would have loved to have written.

The recipes in the book sound divine, and I’m definitely going to try many of them out.

I just found out that Giulia Melucci is going to be giving a book signing in SF on July 11th, and I’ve made plans to be there.

Here’s a little bit from the author, just to entice you:

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AM sent this to me last week, and I just got a chance to view it today.  Overall, I love the message that it promotes.  It’s a good reminder that I have so much to be thankful for and I should treat each day as if it were a special occasion (sometimes hard to do).

The video is 3:20, and is worth the time, because it may just give you a little perspective on life that you needed to be reminded of.

Enjoy the Ride

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