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Showing posts from August, 2016

Year Two, Day 114: No Mercy!

It is after 9 p.m. and I have not yet blogged!

Time just slipped away from me today.

I am on a bit of a break from teaching this week since the recital was Sunday and fall term is starting next week.

So I have been focusing on my belly.

Yes I have become quite OCD about my belly!

I started the day reading a very interesting article about building muscle and burning fat. My friend "R" who is quite the bodybuilder approved of it. But he warned me it is for serious bodybuilders.

I told him I am quite serious.

So serious that I went to the gym and rode the stationary bike for 30 minutes followed by 15 minutes on the treadmill.

Today I focused on cardio.  My research tells me (and I have read this before in my early years of weight training) that it is important to give the muscles a rest in between workouts.

Today I rested from weights.

But I asked my son-in-laws advice on melting fat from the abdominal area. …

Year Two, Day 113: Call Me Shallow, But I Want to Wear Those Jeans Again...

I woke up very determined this morning. Determined to change.

Yesterday my daughter and I had a killer workout. I sweated rivers!  But I am not seeing the progress I would like. Especially in my core.

My daughter was happy to work my core. She is a pilates beast!

But I was just plain frustrated.  It is very humbling to try and do pilates with your beautiful 26 year-old daughter. Especially with so much extra blubber around my middle. And full length wall mirrors surrounding us!

I wanted to just sit down and cry.

I told her I like doing our sprint training. I can feel results. We walk briskly on the treadmill for 10 minutes. Then every 2 minutes we run as fast as we can for 30 seconds. We do this for 20 minutes.

If I can't handle the sprints, then instead of running as fast as I can for 30 seconds, I put it on as steep an incline as I can tolerate for 30 seconds.

It works well because, I can endure almost any torture for 30 seconds!

I also am increasing my weights. I enjoy weights.…

Year Two, Day 112: Best. Recital. Ever!

I actually made it to the gym last night. After my student piano recital, which, I must say in total and complete honesty that yesterday was my best piano student recital ever!

It was a small, casual recital. Only 13 performers including my mom, my niece and myself. I did not even type up a program. Just asked people what number (1-12, I was 13) they wanted to be.

When I am on my deathbed, reliving moments of joy from my life, I will remember this recital. As I sat there with each student who proudly marched on stave, to share their music, I felt as if my heart would burst with love for each one of them. And my spirit soared with pride knowing I was an aide in releasing this music inside of them

This is why I teach. For these moments.

There were also wonderful cookies, cakes and GOLDFISH cheese crackers!

Yes, I indulged.

That is why I dragged myself myself to the gym afterwards.

This morning I weighed in the same weight as last week.

But my daughter has agreed to help me train. We we…

Year Two, Day 111: Plan C

I am feeling rather annoyed and slightly irritable today.

Not about anything that happened.

Rather, about something that has not happened...yet!

I have been so proud of myself for waking up earlier without hitting the snooze button (well at least for not hitting it for an hour!).  Most of the time, I am just popping up, stretching, making coffee and starting my day.  I am clearer headed and can definitely use the time that I used to blatantly waste with extra sleep!

This morning I got up extra early. The plan was to run up to the gym for an early morning workout before church.

I have a student piano recital this evening, so I wanted to make sure I got in a workout.

I find that I get increasingly grumpy and on edge, the longer it is between workouts.

This is a breakthrough!

But, sadly, the bus schedules were off this morning.  I did not make it to the gym before church.

So I made a breakfast burrito instead.  Had a leisurely breakfast, cleaned the kitchen, spent some time with God.


Year Two, Day 110: Thank you God!

That is all I have to say!

Happy Saturday! :)

Year Two, Day 109: Reaching Higher

Last day of piano blues camp! Happy dance!
But as I said yesterday, it is bittersweet. I have formed a bond with my piano bluesers!

Still, it will be a big weight off my shoulders.

I am looking forward to just working out, cooking, teaching, playing some piano, hanging out with family. You know, my usual life stuff.

I had a lot more planning and crowd controlling to do with camp.

Still, it was an experience. One I hope will never be forgotten by these kids.

It would be easy to not stretch myself. To just do the ordinary.  But I would not be content.  It is by stretching myself past my comfort level that I grow. And it is also by reaching higher that the simple things in life then have more appeal.

I could go on and on.

But I must get going.

I think what saved my sanity this week is starting each day with prayer.  Giving it all to God. Asking for patience, kindness and clarity.

And my you all be blessed today.

Happy Friday! :)

Year Two, Day 108: Avoiding the Crushing Guilt

One more day of piano blues camp!

But, well I could have predicted this...I have really grown fond of this group!  Little rascals- it happens every time!

Today was a much better better day than yesterday. Tomorrow we will wrap it up and do a demo jam for the parents.

Oh but I am one pooped out teacher. It is so hot today, which is good. Because I am tempted to skip my gym workout and go straight home and crash.

But we have no A/C. The gym does. Plus it has a pool and a hot tub. I know I will feel much better, sleep much better and not suffer the crushing guilt if I do my exercise duty.

Ok. I better head out before I lose my nerve...

Happy Thursday!

Year Two, Day 107: I Survived Blues Camp 2016 - Day 3!

I should have a t-shirt made that says "I survived piano blues camp 2016!"

That is how I feel at the end of each day! Like I barely survived!

Although I must admit, today went more smoothly. I was prepared!

I had my walkie-talkie and back up troops lined up (office staff that had volunteered to pay random "visits" to class if needed).

I am pleased to say that the back up troops were not needed. The behavior issues are being ironed out. I spent a good deal of time just talking with the kids today.  Remember, that the blues is a reflection of life?  Yup. Especially in blues camp!

But I could use a good stiff drink right now.  Good thing I do not drink alcohol.

This nice cool, quiet library is doing a nice job of lowering my blood pressure.

So is the the thought of my crockpot full of green corn tamales and the coleslaw with shrimp I plan on  making to go along with. I think I will make Mexican rice too!

And of course, my pomegranate/sparkling water/vinegar drink. …

Year Two, Day 106: The Blues Bandit Strikes Again!

I had a lovely cup of split pea soup, a tossed green salad and a glass of unsweetened iced tea with lemon at Toms Restaurant, a family favorite.

I needed time to breathe after today.  Mind if I vent?

My blues camp continues.  We all chose our "Blues" names yesterday.

I am "Blues Bandit"

There are six students.  Five boys and one girl between the ages of 10 and 14.  One boy ("Sleepy Eagle") is autistic- pretty mild.  He was actually one of the best behaved! He loves playing the piano and learned the blues scale lickity split!

Best behaved was the girl. She is a private student of mine. Mature and focused for a teenager.  She missed classed yesterday.  This morning I woke up happy knowing she would be in class. I was hoping she would be my angel of deliverance to balance the energy with the lively boys. 

She was indeed. I do not know if I would have survived with out "Hungry Dog E".

One boy ("Screaming Pickles") has cochlear implants.  H…

Year Two, Day 105: The Crossroad

First day of piano blues camp done!

I have a class full of adolescent boys. But no worries- I taught them the blues scale and 12-bar blues and their creativity replaced their rambunctious energy.
This should be a fun week.
As usual, when I teach this camp, I get inspired. Working on my technique as I teach the boys how to jam, classic blues style.
I especially like to read about the blues artists. Like Robert Johnson.  He was only 27 years old when he died. He was poisoned. But his legendary guitar skills and raw lyrics live on.
Later this week we are going to write our own blues lyrics.
As someone who has carried the weight of depression for much of her life, I appreciate how healing it can be to give in to the blues now and then. Cry, moan, vent. Then let the music lift you up to a better place. This is too deep for kids. But reading about the struggles that led to the birth of the boys is like tearing off a scab on my heart.
I thought I had…

Year Two, Day 104: An Extrovert in Stealth Mode

Ahhh....relief from the heat! I have the window open. Lovely,cool air is wafting in. I am hoping the break in the heat will brighten moods. There were a lot of angry people out and about last night.

 More altercations on the bus over the last few days than usual too.

I am preparing to play the piano in church again this morning.

Then it is off to the river for my son-in--law's birthday picnic!

Update: I am having a popcorn snack and a coconut "La Croix" before heading to the gym. It is 7:24 p.m.

Quite stuffed am I -  too much picnic food! But I had a lovely time. I visited quite comfortably with many people. Several whom I had just met!

I am actually beginning to question my long held status as an introvert...

Perhaps I am really an extrovert in stealth mode! :)

Year Two, Day 103: H.O.T.

Today is day 103 of my second year on my self improvement quest.

Interesting. 103 was the high temperature yesterday in Portland.

Today is supposed to be cooler. A nice balmy 101.

But anything over 90 degrees, my body computers as H. O. T.

You know as much as I have complained about the heat and praised our 70 ish and drizzly climate, I could get used to this.  I must be getting old, because the heat makes my body feel less achy.

But, perhaps I am also slimming down and getting into shape. Because I do not have swollen feet and ankles.

But it is just too dang hot today!

I am in my library office. I had a skeleton crew of piano students. Beginning with my very dedicated 73 year-old mother!

The church was like a sauna. Everyone else canceled. So I sat in the dark and practiced for church tomorrow. 

I am going to do some work here and then head to the gym.  Anything but the hot house!

By the way, my tamales turned out super yesterday!  I may have to make some more. The kids gobbled them…

Year Two, Day 102: Hotter than Al Pacino!

In my office at the library.

It is going to be hotter than Al Pacino today!

It's nice and cool in here. For now. I am printing up some music to play for a customer online. Then it is back home to make tamales in my crockpot! I am excited about it. My friend "R" is from Mexico. He told me about "green corn tamales" and I became very curious to try them.

I have the corn husks soaking in warm water as we speak.

I will go to the gym after I teach tonight. It will be too hot to do anything else.

And I shall soak my poor feet in the pool before I return home.

Happy Friday! :)

Year Two, Day 101: Rock On!

I am convinced that I need to train like it is my job!  I am finally seeing some progress this week. My abs have shrunk and my feet are not swollen. And my thighs do not rub together when I walk...woot woot!

But we will see what they look like in the coming 100 degree weather!

Everyday in every way I am getting stronger and stronger!

Tomorrow I am going to try to make tamales in the crockpot.

I am also going to start stretching early in the morning to classical music to start my day. 

But now for some cleaning.

And for cleaning, I need classic rock!

Rock on!

Happy Thursday!

Year Two, Day 100: To Health!

In my Salem office, sipping iced tea at Ike Box Coffee Shop. They are playing reruns of the US women's gymnastics floor routine from last night. It is no less amazing on the repeat.

If I had my life to do over, I would devote myself to a sport. Most likely running. Even if I never ran competitively, I would have train relentlessly.

I did run in my late teens and early twenties. I liked the feeling of freedom I felt. It was never easy, but after the run, I felt incredible!

And lately, I am feeling the pull towards running again. However,I still feel I need to drop more weight so it is not damaging to my knees.

I know I've said I dislike hot weather, but it seems like I feel better physically in the heat. I do not ache much. But it may not be just the weather. It could be my healthy eating, my avoiding food after 8:00 p.m., my vinegar drink, my more positive attitude...

Or could it be that I am enjoying compliments from a person of the handsome male persuasion? ;)

Whatever the …

Year Two, Day 99: A Lovely Shade of Red!

In my office at the library...I am really liking this shade of red my daughter chose for my hair.  I guess now that I am feeling healthier and more positive, I am not ready for all the gray!

I have a big crockpot of vegetable soup full of cabbage, zucchini, potatoes, carrots, onion, peppers and tomatoes, cooked in a rich beef boullion. The tomatoes and peppers are from my daughter's garden. The soup smells heavenly!

I have a group of students to teach after the library, then I am hoofing it to the gym. I think I have finally trained myself to not feel complete without a workout!

My daughter is making us a fresh green juice for me to drink when I get home.

Life is good!

Happy Tuesday! :)

Year Two, Day 98: A Woman of Integrity

I like to consider myself to be a woman of integrity. So, true to my word, I am going to start posting my stats again every Monday. Starting today!

These are my first recorded stats on this blog:
May 26, 2015

Weight: 203 Neck: 15" Chest: 47" Waist: 41" Hips: 48" Thighs: 23"  Biceps: 14"  Compared with today:
August 15, 2016
Weight: 194 Neck: 14" Chest: 41" Waist: 37" Hips: 44" Thighs: 22" Biceps: 13" Calves: 16" Ankles: 8.5"
I feel good about the inches lost and and improvement in my health, and attitude.
But as I have been saying lately, to anyone that will listen, I am ready to take it to the next level!
And today I did just that.

Year Two, Day 97: Bring it On!!

A stellar day so far!

I was asked to play the piano at my little church while the regular pianist is on vacation. I woke up super early this morning with butterflies in my stomach. It had been several months since I'd played in public. I practiced a bit and made myself as presentable as possible. (I find that quells the stage fright- looking my best.)

 And I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

I am a bit of a sap- I get teary-eyed over my own playing. Today was no exception. But what was even more moving, was I sensed my music was having the same effect on many in the congregation! I could be wrong, the sniffles could be summer colds or allergies. But I sensed that my music was touching souls today.

And that is powerful.

Speaking of powerful, I have been sticking to my eating regimen of no food after 8:00 p.m. (Aside from my vinegar drink, that is). I plan I posting my stats tomorrow morning.

I've been walking everyday and making it to the gym 4-5 days a week.

I may sound lik…

Year Two, Day 96: Day Off

It's hot. It's humid and I hardly slept at all last night.

So I am taking the day off from blogging.

Instead, I am meeting my son at the mall. Where we will be watching his girlfriend's two little boys while she works.

Side note: Will not be going to the gym either- watching these two boys is a good enough workout!

I am looking forward to this evening: the deck, a lawn chair,  a tub of water to soak my feet and a refreshing cherry juice, soda water and apple cider vinegar on ice!

Will return tomorrow.

Happy Saturday! :)

Year Two, Day 95: Vinegar People

Still drinking my juice and vinegar tonic. I am trying it with tart cherry juice (no sugar added, mixed with apple juice) and apple cider vinegar today. I've adjusted the ratio: just about 1/8 cup juice over ice, fill the rest of the cup with sparkling water, top off with about three tablespoons vinegar.

It is tangy and refreshing. Plus, I seem to be feeling more balanced and less prone to food cravings.

I ran out of vinegar earlier. So I walked up to the little corner store. I was surprised they had it in stock. I told the young sales clerk about my vinegar drink. She was surprisingly very interested, even wrote down the "recipe"! :)

Nice to know there are other vinegar people out there! She even confided that she drinks pickle juice from the jar.

I stared at her. "I thought only my kids and I did that", I laughed.

I've been making it to the gym at least once a day, sometimes twice- I like ending the day with a swim and a hot tub. My aching feet thank me!

Year Two, Day 94: Like a Bandit!

My new way of thinking and living was tested today.  I am noticing when I am feeling vulnerable, insecure and fragile, that I want to nurture my feelings with food.

But I fought back! Like a bandit!

And I think I won. :)

Luckily, about the time I started to descend into self pity, my beautiful, wonderful daughter texted me and invited me to lunch.  She works at a hospital. A fairly new job. I at first declined, thinking I needed to get to the gym before teaching, needed to work on my lesson plan for blues camp...I had a list a mile long of things I needed to do. But then I stopped and said yes.

Because this is my only daughter. And I had not seen her in action at her new job. And I needed to pull myself up.

So glad I made this decision!  We had a very healthy rice bowl and some very healthy laughter.  Love that girl so much!

I am on my way to teach. And then afterwards I will hit the gym. I am trying to replace food addiction with exercise addiction.

I am down a few pounds. My belly i…

Year Two, Day 93: Breaking Up With Food!

I woke up 3 pounds lighter this morning.

Ready to take my fitness up to the next level!  Starting this coming Monday, I'll start posting my stats again - that should make me accountable!!

I am sticking with my no eating after 8:00 p.m. Surprisingly it is getting easier! Perhaps I am finally breaking the hold food has on my life!!

I am really enjoying my homemade tonic of pomegranate juice, sparkling water and vinegar. I have one in the morning and one in the evening. I have adjusted the ratio to 1 part juice, 3 parts water and about one tablespoon of vinegar.

I am also taking melatonin at night, which seems to be helping my sleep.

I am in Salem today, feeling mighty fine. The weather is perfect. I am sipping tea and watching the US women's team play the Japanese women's team in field hockey.

Next stop, Cafe Yumm for a healthy lunch and then to teach some students.

I will stop at the gym on the way home for a bit of swimming and a soak in the hot tub. Which also insures a …

Year Two, Day 92: Exercise, Music and Inner Peace

I must be getting old. Little things tend to trip me up.  Like losing something.  I somehow cannot focus on my life until I find it.  My heart will thud and I will be obsessing over the last place I saw the item.  Sometimes I will pop up in the middle of the night with an "aha!" moment, find the pesky lost thing and then instant peace comes over me.

Until next time. This last issue was an automatic payment on my checking account for my gym membership.  I had already seen a payment go through at the beginning of the month, when Bam!  I got another payment for twice the usual amount  deducted yesterday.  I was hoping I did not miss the fine print which said me monthly fee would go up by double after six months.  I called, but was put on hold. The automated voice said it would be a hold of "more than 20 minutes" and to call back during "non-peak" hours.

I tried that twice. At different times. Apparently the non peak hours are whenever I am lucky enough to ge…

Year Two, Day 91: Men's Water Polo and Fitness Power

I am feeling like a new woman lately. Perhaps it is my flirting sessions with the handsome Latino busdriver?

Perhaps it is my pomegranate/vinegar/sparkling water morning and evening drink?

Perhaps it is my return to no eating in the evening?

Or perhaps it is watching men's Olympic polo games on the big screen at the gym while working out on the eliptical machine? (I just realized they are actually TREADING water while playing polo! That would explain the very healthy physiques!...and now you know my secret to 30 minutes on the eliptical without hardly noticing the time go by!)

Or perhaps my commitment to lose 40 pounds by healthy eating, with my daughter (who only has to lose 20).  We even have a "fitness" power special handshake!

Or perhaps it is all of the above!

I am feeling energized and full of life.

I have decided not to go ahead with the fibromyalgia study. I am doing well working past the pain at the gym and with diet and prayer.  I do not want to go from the p…

Year Two, Day 90: Flirting for Health

A very pleasant day so far. Pleasant, but a little odd, I might add!

To begin with, I felt much better upon arising. I am yet again enacting my no eating in the evening rule.  I'd like to cut off eating at 7:00 p.m., but with my schedule I would be safer saying 8:00 p.m. That way I don't have to deal with the consuming guilt!

Yesterday I did not eat after 7:00.  But I did mix pomegranate juice with sparkling water and a splash of vinegar.  I have read for many years that apple cider vinegar has health benefits, including digestion.  I have also seen recipes for "shrubs" lately that include fruit syrup and vinegar.

With my complaining tummy, I do seem to crave vinegar, and fermented foods.  Like sauerkraut. Pickles. Kimchi. 

Anyway, perhaps it was the vinegar drink. Or it was the not eating late.  But I woke up feeling better than average!

And as an added bonus, my favorite bus driver picked me up on the way to church.  AND the same driver drove me home! We had much …

Year Two, Day 89: Transfiguration

"Jesus Transfigured on the Mount2 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— 6 because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid. 7 And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” 8 Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves." ~Mark 9:1-8 NKJV Lovely sermon this morning by the Jesuit priest this morning at first Saturday Mass. He spoke of how we as Christians are continually being transformed by our…

Year Two, Day 88: Choosing Freedom!

Today is day 7 of my "happiness way":

"The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love. Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Do as you would be done by. Try this for a week and you will be surprised". ~The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale, 1952 I have done this to the best of my ability for a week.  And I am surprised.  First of all,that I spent so much time thinking negatively.  I knew I was a worrier, but I would have hateful thoughts just "pop up", kind of like those annoying pop up ads on your computer!
Secondly, that I thought of myself almost constantly! My aches and pains, my level of sleepiness, my level of hunger, my anxieties...Oy!  Way too self involved am I!
Third, once I started noticing these patterns, and replacing them with positive thoughts, smiles, deep breathing, and passages from scripture, I felt lighter and had more time! 

Year Two, Day 87: Praying for a Hateful Man. On a Train

Today is day 6 of my "happiness way":

"The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love. Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Do as you would be done by. Try this for a week and you will be surprised". ~The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale, 1952 I finished reading The Power of Positive Thinking on the train ride home to Portland from Salem yesterday.  Usually a one hour trip, yesterday took 3 hours - including an odd moment of about a half mile traveling in reverse!  Apparently there was a problem with the Steele Bridge. The Amtrak employees had to change the connecting tracks by hand. Not sure I understood the whole process.
But I was ok with it. The train is very comfortable, and I was immersed in my book.
That is, until the man behind me started spewing profanity.  Such hateful words, most of them which I do not want to remember, even less repeat!
He was…

Year Two, Day 86: Ike Box

Day 6 of my "happiness way":

"The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Fill your life with love. Scatter sunshine. Forget self, think of others. Do as you would be done by. Try this for a week and you will be surprised". ~The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale, 1952

I have discovered a new office! I am in Salem today. I usually arrive quite hungry and head for the Indian buffet near the Amtrak station. But in honoring my quest for self improvement, which includes more sensible eating, I ate yogurt on the bus ride down.

Divinely yummy yogurt. "NOOSA" lemon yogurt. It is whole milk and incredibly satisfying. Not to mention yummy!

 I guess I already said that.

Anyway, I arrived in Salem feeling peaceful and not at all hungry! It was a first. I hardly knew what to do with myself. So I walked. I headed downtown. I had heard there was a little coffee shop with WiFi. My plan was to …