Project Finish Line: Finish Line Friday! (On Sunday)

How can a Finish Line Friday be on a Sunday, you ask?

Because I weighed in on Friday morning and it’s taken me until this fine Sunday evening during a very stressful Seahawks football game to sit down and catch you up. 

This week was another week of life happening – totaled car, late night meetings, trouble with the boss…I’m feeling pretty beat up. Happily, progress towards my goals continues.

 

Goal 1 (Size 8 by August 2015) met with limited success, although one more pound down is one more pound down. Two days in the gym (ugh – so sad), but a decent week of nutrition got me there. And may I please remind us all I started at 167 lbs. My last Size 8 days saw me at about 140-145. Eight-thirteen (what I suspect will be very hard won) pounds to go…

Week 8 Weigh In


Week 9 Weigh In

I’ve also started working on pursuing a passion that may translate into more exercise – Roller Derby! 

When I was a kid I loved to skate (roller blade, really), and the good thing about being curvy is you have a lot of weight to throw around. What better marriage of my natural talents than strapping on eight wheels and…well…throwing my weight around? 

It will also give me a chance to release some pent up aggression and my naturally competitive nature. Perhaps Seahawks football will become less stressful. 😉

Now if only the Denver Roller Dolls or Rocky Mountain Roller Girls would get back with me.. 

Goal 2 (Finish My Novel) got little more than a few passing thoughts from me this week. I’m quite stuck as I near the end, but I plan to take the week of Christmas off from work (we’ll see if that means I am actually off or just not in the office), and at least one of those days (and probably a few nights) will be spent click-clacking away on my lap top fueled by the fervent hope that someday I’ll get to print my “masterpiece” and finally have completed something tangible. 

And, finally, Goal 3 (Go to Europe in 2015)…You may recall last week I was feeling a bit unsure of this one. Is it the right thing to do? Shoouldn’t I be 100% focused on paying off debt? Can a girl this buried by loans of every variety and trapped on the hamster wheel of working to pay bills instead of working to live my life truly, in good conscience, spend the next 8 months paying off a credit card just to rack up the charges all over again by taking something as frivolous as an international vacation?

  Southern Europe – Suggested Route

 

I’m still waffling. 

But today…today, I think yes. Today, I think I must take this opportunity before it passes me by and is gone forever like so many other missed chances I should have taken. 

My poor husband got to experience one of my random almost-meltdowns over the stress of our debt – brought on, I suspect, by a combination of holiday expenses, a newly replaced dishwasher, a totaled car, the recent loss of a dear friend, some new personal experiences, and a bad work week – and was subjected (and dealt with gracefully) to a rant inspired by my reading on Dave Ramsey’s book. 

God help the man who marry’s a passionate (Aries) woman who reads.  

In fact it’s highly likely that you’ll be seeing another Emo-series post from me sometime this week, but don’t worry – I’ve got a much less self-indulgent DIY piece coming soon as well. 😉

 

So another week down, and many miles to go before I sleep. 

Aside

Project Finish Line: The 8 Week Itch

Having gone back over my calendar I find that I am embarking upon week 9 of Operation Finish Line. 

Like any Type A personality, I was hoping to come here today and tell you that I rocked out on yet another amazing week of kicking ass and taking names on my goals but, alas, it is not so. I am, after all, a mere mortal. 

So here’s the somewhat despressing breakdown: 

GOAL 1: Size 8 

With my Three BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) still lying ahead, this past week was a bit less than stellar. I suppose I can call it my 8 Week Itch, since the 7 Year Itch is supposed to be when spouses start falling off the two-man bandwagon of fidelity (did I mention December 5th was my sixth anniversary? Yipes!), because I did indeed fall off the wagon. 

My post-Thanksgiving high of having lost a pound over the holiday week must have made me cocky, because last week I went to the gym only one time, did not follow my nutrition plan (so says the Oreos, cappuccino muffin, hamburger, fries, shot of Jameson, and…well…you get the point), and I traveled and ate out which always translates to disaster for me. I went from 154.2 last week to 154.4 this week. Perhaps .2 lbs gained does not actually qualify as a disaster, per se, but it is definitely NOT progress. 

Today I went and lifted weights, got sweaty, and WILL go back tomorrow for some treadmill time. 


GOAL 2: Finish My Novel

I am so happy to report that I actually made some progress here! Minimal progress, but progress nonetheless. 

I took a few hours on Saturday to hit a Starbucks, pop open my lap top, turn on some tunes, and add another chapter to my book. I’m so close I can finally see the end in sight!

Endings are hard, though, so I’m definitely not winning any speed-writing contests for this one. 

Should I post a chapter or two here? Would anyone care to read and critique?

 

GOAL 3: Go to Europe

I’ve met with a bit of an obstacle here, but as so many quotes tell us, if we really want something we will find a way. If not, we’ll find an excuse. 

I am now the proud owner of a totaled car; I have enough credit card and student loan debt to make me nauseated sometimes; my paycheck isn’t getting any bigger; the holidays are here (which inlcude the birthdays of my newly-adult niece, and a close friend); my mom wants me to come visit for Christmas; we went halvsies to bring my mother-in-law home for Thanksgiving….lots of really great rationalization for continuing to let the money roll in and out without any real idea of where it all goes. 

But live in a world (read: work in a proefession) where all the sound reasons in the world are just excuses wrapped in pretty paper and sparkly bows. 

I hate excuses. So I will find a way.

 

Overall this Progress Post could really bum you (and me!) out, but I have been reminding myself lately that it is important to learn in the face of adversity. After all, we just had a holiday that was all about being grateful.

My mantle gets dressed up for holidays. However, the giant Turkey balloon (which was later used to make Lolly Pop Guild voices at my dogs and scare the crap out of them!) was from my sister-in-law.

And there is no shortage of blessings, luck, good karma, or whatever you choose to call it, in my home. So I am learning from my setbacks and challenges a few things I have forgotten this last year. Things I think are true of us all. 

Things I Forgot to Remember:
1.  I am super talented! 

Sure, there is PLENTY of shit I cannot or should not do (including but not limited to: having kids, keeping plants, going armed into large crowds of holiday shoppers, or anything that involves prolonged periods of patience). But I also have a lot of love and kindness to share, I’m pretty damn funny when the mood strikes me, I am THE BEST at Thanksgiving (yes, all of Thanksgiving. All of it.), I’m smart a reasonable amount of the time, and I can be very motivating. 

Sometimes I forget that for all my shortcomings and character flaws, I still have strengths. What are your strengths and talents? I know you have so many!

 

2. I am valuable and deserve respect. 

I would love to be beautiful and rich, or be some kind of grand innovator or political figure, but I’m just me. I’m one small person in an unfathomably enormous universe, but I am still just as valuable and deserving of respect as are the other people with whom I inhabit this earth. Perhaps I’m not pretty enough, smart enough, social enough, funny enough, polished enough, or whatever…But I’m trying. I’m trying to be a good person, surround myself with positivity, and give love and humor to those around me. So…let’s all remember that we do those things and be nice to each other. 

And ourselves. 

3. Doctor Suess had it right. 

It’s coming up on Christmas, and though I’m not a Christian anymore I still love this holiday. I found myself with no joy this year for ANY of the awesome holidays from October-January, and I realized it was because this time of year magnifies the best and worst in people – the “worst” part being the reason my joy was waning. 

But as Doctor Suess and his tale of Whoville taught us, Christmas is about so much more, and I plan to live that way this year – even if it wierds my family out a little. Or a lot. 

It’s not about the gifts. In fact, I have no wish list (aside from the goals here), and I want for nothing. I simply want to take some time for myself, enjoy falling snow and crackling fires, be thankful for all that I have, and generally just find some peace. I want my family to be happy, and I want to try to find my own source of happiness inside that I seem to have lost this year. 

See? Already all dressed up for Christmas.

 

4. I’m not every going to be everyone’s cup of tea – And that’s okay. 

I get really wrapped up in what certain others think of me. Even strangers can sometimes screw with my mojo. Why? I don’t know. 

Childhood trauma, family alcoholism, being the baby of the family and always wanting attention, being a typical attention-whoring Aries…call it what you likek, but even the most well-intentiond criticisms get me down sometimes. 

But the thing is, that’s okay. Just like I enjoy super strong Earl Grey with milk, lemon, and honey, some folks like it weak and plain. It is what it is, and I have to remember that the individual preferences of others are not necessarily an indictment of me, but simply an expression of individualism. 

 

5. Happiness comes from within. 

Depending on outside stimuli to find happiness truly is a recipe for disaster – or disappointment. If you can’t be happy in your own company, then why would anyone else? I haven’t found that for myself yet, but…I will. 

 

Okay, so maybe a little joy came from machete-ing a pumpkin (below). 

My dad left a machete behind when he died. It came in very handy for Thanksgiving prep when I encountered a particularly difficult pumpkin. Unforeseen side affect: I want to find more stuff to machete whack!

 

So all in all, not as successful a week as I would have hoped for, but I’ve found that I am dedicated to my goals.

I choose to find the way, not the excuse.

Emo Monday, or Hope: The Silent Killer

Being the mega-nerd-girl that I am, I went and saw Mockingjay over the weekend. It’s been a while since I read the Hunger Games Trilogy, so I can’t remember if the quote in the movie that struck me was in the book, but it was this that caught my attention and sent me into one of my introverted meandering mind states: 

It is the things we love most that will destroy us.” – President Snow (played by the ever-awesome-and-kinda-creepy Donald Sutherland)

That they will, Mr. President. That. They. Will. 

You’re wondering what the hell any of this has to do with hope, as per the title of today’s blog. Well, let me see if I can bring you along my usually-running-off-the-tracks train of thought.

First, a little insider info: 

I’m generally an incredibly positive person. I have a pretty soft heart that is capable of immense amounts of love and compassion – too much, I’m finding – although I like to believe it’s well-guarded by thick brick walls topped with razor wire and surrounded by ninjas. Which tells you that I also like to think of myself as a pretty tough chick. And I am. 

It’s this kind of heart-breaking beauty that makes me hope for magic, because what else could create such sights?

 

Or maybe stubborn is more the adjective. Resilient. Tenacious. Bull-headed pain in the ass, some might say. 

All true. 

And some people might respect or appreciate that quality. After all, I was in the military and now work in emergency services – giving up is not really in the nature of successful people in those lines of business. 

I might say glutton for punishment. Because the problem, as I see it, is I don’t know when to give up. 

I think it’s a by-product of watching too much television. I love stories – TV, movies, books, poems, songs – about good triumphing over evil, underdogs winning, survival against all odds, friends loyal to the end despite endless obstacles, magic and soul mates, love conquering all! 

All the things that never seem to actually happen in real life. 

And I’m beginning to see that I am a reluctantly hopeful person. I want to see all the stories become reality – just once! I say I’m reluctant because my talent for holding on like a pitbull-on-a-pork chop has left me scarred, burned, a bit fractured, and sometimes even fully broken. 

And yet I have’t yet learned how to let go – even of the things that aren’t meant for me. 

My conscious mind, the logical part, is so pragmatic and such a realist. It tells me when I’m spinning my wheels, when what I want to happen simply will not happen, when the sheer force of my seemingly indominable will is simply not enough. My mind knows when to give up and move on.

But my heart...My stupid hopeful heart. My heart with all of its fanciful friggin’ faith. That brick-wall-and-ninja-guarded marshmallowy thing that dreams and wishes and hopes…That place in the center of my being – in the center of all of us – is a stupid, silly thing that sets me up for a fall nearly every chance it gets. 

Every perceived insult is personal, every lost friend a new emptiness, every betrayal a fresh wound, every rejection the ripping and tearing of scar tissue opened to bleed again and take a lifetime to heal. My dad’s death was a new kind of pain that now seems to have created a recurring injury that, like some horrific form of physical PTSD, now throbs anew when I’m experiencing anything akin to grief. 

So there I lie, from time to time, bleeding internally and trying to muster the strength to heal the broken bones and third degree burns and lacerations while simultaneously getting on stage to live my life – go to work, take care of a home & family, connect with friends, plan for and approach my future… All the things we’re supposed to do. And I do it. I find the strength, and each morning when the alarm goes off I step into the spotlight and play my part, fully adorned in trendy costume and brilliantly smiling character. 

See? Brilliantly smiling character. 😉

Some days remind me of the weeks after my dad died, when I could feel every single second pass by and the goal was just to keep breathing through each one of them. And maybe try not to cry. 

There is a part of me that believes a person needs to have hope. It’s what keeps us moving forward, after all. But I often wonder – like when Johnny Cash died just a few short months after his wife, June Carter Cash – when will a broken heart, a heart made to hope and hold on for nothing, finally kill you? 

Yes, yes, I know – everything is a lesson, there’s always an opportunity, everything happens for a reason, if it’s meant to be it will be, it’s all a growth opportunity, if one door closes another opens, blah, blah, blah. I get that. A part of me even believes that. 

But wouldn’t it be a lovely, less painful thing to control hope? 

It may not be the thing that wields the killing blow, but it is the thing that opens the armor and bares the tenderest, most mortal parts of us. 

Project Finish Line: Post-Thanksgiving Shame?

Week 8 of Operation Finish Line is ending in a post-Thanksgiving Day House Music BBQ hosted by my husband’s bromance buddy (also a house DJ like my guy). I know this sounds ominous considering I’m aiming for a Size 8 by next summer, and most people eat something like an average of 3500 calories on Thanksgiving alone, but I’m happy to show you these pics from Week 7 and Week 8 Weigh Ins: 

  

 

Say what!!!???

Okay, so it’s not the kind of progress I’m looking for, but it’s also not the massive backslide I expected – especially considering the only exercise I got this week was rolling pie dough, moving some Christmas decorations from the garage to the house, and dancing to yet more house music last night (while simultaneously guzzling down a double Vodka-soda). But how can you not dance when you have boots this fabulous???

Last Friday I ran a mile in 10 minutes, so this week the goal is to make it to the gym 4 times and run that same mile again while also getting back to my Carb Cycling routine.


Now how about that book, you might ask. 

Sadly, I have done literally nothing more than consider finishing it. A little battling with some depression and other life drama has left me feeling a bit cynical and uninspired. And a week-long visit from the in-laws left me without the time. BUT, as they say, if you want something you will find a way, and if you don’t you will find excuses. I want this

So the way must be found. Inspiration or no, time or not, drama or smooth sailing, I will finish. I will find the ending. I will print, and edit, and bind. And then I’ll put it on my shelf as a completed project and reminder of the fact that I CAN do anything I put my mind to. 

Perhaps I’ll even post bits here for some feedback and comment to get me to the Finish Line. 


Finally, Goal 3: Go To Europe. 

This one is proving to be a bit more problematic than I anticipated. 

I was loaned a book by a highly respected friend and colleague – Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover – that’s proved to be a very sensible, intelligent, and comical read on the subject of getting out of debt. It’s also made me realize I’m nearly drowning in debt – credit cards, car payment, horrifying amounts of student loans, and of course a mortgage on my rental property and on the condo we actually live in – as are so many others in the country who are living the “American Dream.”

Thanks, Dave, I’m sufficiently freaked out and have a desire for change. A huge one. A massive one. A desire so consuming I’m at the point of coming to terms with giving up on something else I have a desire for – my trip to Europe. 

Is now the time? Do I get out of debt just to pile it back on again? Or take yet another year (or two…) to scrape my way out of the hole I’m in, then save the actual cash for my Eurotrip? And, oh BTW, I have 3 friends and a husband also in the mix on this trip. 

I’m agonizing over it not only because I really, really want to take this trip with some awesome people, but also because I want to live my life! I’ve spent my adult life worried about other people, being responsible, doing the honorable thing, trying to become a productive member of society and giving my life to what I thought was success – work. But I’m realizing, too, that my heart & soul are fed by experience and adventure. And I won’t find that living the same routine and never taking calculated risks. I need to see the world, I long to immerse myself in cultures outside of my own, learn languages, and eat foods, and see sights, and meet people who shock and entertain and challenge and expand my paradigm, my person. 

Mr. Ramsey would call that a rationalization. Perhaps it is. 

But what if it’s still true?

Project Finish Line: Week 7 and Holy Moly Carb Cycling Works!

I’m happy to report that, despite a weekend in Dallas drinking and carousing with my best friend followed by a pretty off week, I weighed in Saturday morning at 155 lbs (down from last week!). I won’t be taking measurements again until January, but my pants are now lose enough that they’re hanging a bit lower and making me look slightly sloppy. But only slightly. Nowhere near a size 8 yet. 😉

No one ever said it was easy achieving the things you want, and tackling 3 major goals all in just under a year is no exception.

In addition to writing a book, going to Europe, and regaining the glory of a size 8 (yes, a size 8 for me is glory – I just don’t have a skinny girl frame, okay? Caution: Curves Ahead) I’ve been on a bit of a personal journey since my dad died in 2012, and over the last couple of months that journey’s gotten jacked up a notch. While necessary, I’ve found it’s also a bit mentally – and oddly physically – exhausting.

Compound that with an unpredictable, stressful, and highly change-prone job, and life is a bit…complicated…at the moment.

But that’s the thing – Life. Is. Complicated.

All we can do is try to know ourselves well enough to navigate the inevitably and often times constantly rough waters without drowning. No easy feat.

So what does this have to do with Operation Finish Line? Two things.

First, while I’ve been continuing to (mostly) eat the 5 small meals a day required by Chris Powell’s Carb Cycling nutrition plan, I’ve not been doing well with eating the right things. Happily, I’ve not gone totally off the deep end either. In fact, a weird thing is happening to me: I’m not that hungry, and I’m not murdering people as a result of not eating that much.

Example: Yesterday (a bad day by any carb cycler’s standard), I ate cereal with blueberries, a handful of almonds, some chicken nuggets, and about 5 bites of a chicken bowl from Chipotle, and possibly a Quest protein bar. (Side notes: Quest protein bars are my absolute favorite healthy snack on earth!) And I wasn’t hungry. I’m also not experiencing any cravings! Is this real life????

Second, I know a serious challenge is coming my way.

Thanksgiving.

Yes, my friends, the day when even the most devout gym-bunnies and dieteers are victim to obscene amounts of irresistibly tasty noms and nibbles. And my house is no different. In fact, as a teenager married and living near a military base, I learned early how to prepare a meal fit for kings – or in my case, a group of hungry single soldiers who needed a bit of home and family while they were far from their own.

And now? Now I’m The Queen of Thanksgiving.

Alton Brown’s Super Apple Pie? Done.

What? Like it's hard?

What? Like it’s hard?

Or perhaps you’re more a Bourbon Pecan Pie kind of person? Then eat your heart out.

I like to think I'm a humble woman, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, well...I'm a goddess.

I like to think I’m a humble woman, but when it comes to Thanksgiving, well…I’m a goddess.

But wait!! No! DO NOT EAT YOUR HEART OUT!

I’ve come too far too far to totally derail now. So the plan is to load up on the yummy turkey breast (in moderation of course), naturally sweeten the cranberries and go easy on them, take small portions of the other greatness, and then keep some veggies hanging around to fill in any holes that might remain. My other trick is to cook just enough for the guests I’ll have and then load them up with leftovers.

Et voila!

Staying on track.

What’s your plan to enjoy all the scrumptious selections without backsliding past the point of no return?

Project Finish Line: 6 Weeks Later…

I’m not entirely convinced it’s not The Dress that’s making me look like I’ve made progress, but my doctor’s office scale corroborates the story that I’ve been Carb Cycling and exercising…

 

Hello again, friends! 

Because I’m the incredible sand-bagger that I am, my last Project Finish Line blog post was written weeeeeks ago, and I just posted it last week. What can I say? I wanted to make sure I maintained the time and commitment to do what I set out to do and, in fact, keep you posted as I promised. 

If you’ll recall, I set out to 1. Finish my novel, 2. Go to Europe, and 3. Get to a size 8 within 11 (now only 8 1/2 months) with YOU as my source of accountability. 

So, in the words of my all-time favorite guilty pleasure show (Supernatural!!!) – here’s The Road So Far (someone cue Kansas’ Carry on Wayward Son)….

Let’s talk the journey to a Size 8 first. 

I’ve been working out with a trainer at my gym since at least May, but only very sporadically due to my crazy work schedule and a lot of travel. We did 12 sessions together, and while I only experienced a few unsustained loss of pounds, I learned so much and really started to enjoy the gym. I go as often as I can now, my goal being a minimum of 3 days a week – but let’s face it, that’s not always possible for me. BUT – I’m going and I LOVE it. Progress!!

Where I knew I was falling down was with my nutrition. My thyroid is supposedly fine, and for a while I was restricting myself to 1200-1500 calories a day of things like green smoothies, chicken breast, low fat cottage cheese, fruit, blah, blah, blah. The progress was soooooooo agonizingly slooow. And for a borderline poster child for ADHD and Aries personified, slow progress with so much work meant that I quit. 

Repeatedly. 

Something had to change. Something had to WORK!

Enter Extreme Weigh Loss and the over-the-top-motivated-ever-faithful Chris Powell and his unfairly gorgeous and sweet friend & wife, Heidi. I’ve watched the show off and on for years – I love a good Underdog Overcomes story of hope and perseverance. After watching an episode about a woman who stands at something like four feet who ran a full marathon in Hawaii and NEVER QUIT, I was inspired to pick up one of Chris’s books and start following him on FB and via his and Heidi’s blogs. 

I picked up Choose More, Lose More For Life – a very basic book about transformation through exercise and Chris’s Carb-Cycling nutrition plan. 

The verdict?

Holy sh*t it actually works. 

It’s easy, I dont’t feel hungry or deprived, I can still eat the stuff I enjoy (I’m doing the Turbo Cycle, so I do cheat days on the weekend), and frankly I’m totally NOT doing it perfectly and STILL getting results. 

7 pounds down since I started 4-ish weeks ago (prior to that I was just doign the calorie counting thing that helped me lose about 3 pounds over a 6-month period…). This inclues two weekends of travel out of state wherein I was NOT following the plan but being very careful – or perhaps intentional is the right word – about what I was eating. Even as I write, I am at the airport on my way to Dallas for the weekend, where I’m guaranteed to not eat or exercise according to plan. (Or at all in the case of exercise. I’m bad. Bad to the bone.)

 

Now how about that novel?

I have nothing to report. I have made some very half-hearted attempts to write, but it seems the mood is only striking me at times when I don’t have access/time to perform the actual act of writing. My iPad Mini keeps me plugged into my journal and the blogosphere, but not so much to my book. 

Any suggestions on how I can overcome this particcular hurtle???

 

As to Europe, well…


Two things are happening on that front. First, there is a plan in place to pay off my credit card debt by moving the balances to a zero-interest card, and begin making between $500-$700 payments each month. I’m going to give this plan an 80% success rate. Holidays, a need for new tires on my Suby, and a broken dishwasher have slowed the progress in the last month or two, but I’m still plugging away. Additionally, I’ve done probably the oddest – and tackiest – thing on earth and developed a gift registry for Christmas and upcoming birthdays/holidays to help w/ expenses. More to come on how my family responds…. 😉

 

So here we are, with 26-ish weeks to go and B average on deck. I’m not giving up. I’m NOT quitting. 

What will YOU do in the next 26 weeks?

Project Finish Line: The Genesis

Wearing 10 lbs of reclaimed clothing doesn’t help anyone look thinner….

Want to start hiking? Screw that 30-minute, 70-foot elevation trail – let’s do the 12 miler!

Dieting? Eff that – let’s do a 7-day juice cleanse!

Twitter? A hundred-character limit is for losers – I’m writing a novel!

You get the idea. I’m the archetypal Aries with a passion for life, boundless positive energy, and…I’m sorry, what was I saying? Oh right – and a short attention span. As much as I hate running (although I’m trying a bit of interval running at the moment…), I find I live life a bit more like a sprinter than a marathoner: quick bursts of impressive energy, and then…I’m stretched out and hitting the showers.

Now, in fairness to myself, I have an incredible work ethic when it comes to actual work – meaning something that ends with a paycheck. I’ve been with the same organization for nearly a decade, having worked my way up from the bottom (Drake, anybody? No? Okay, moving on…). Must be that need for immediate gratification from which I’ve suffered all my life and which has led to my rather impressive shoe (and necklace, earring, and general clothing) collection.

Based on the shoes alone it’s obvious that the marathoner doesn’t necessarily live the superior life.

But I’ve also experienced the rewards that come from commitment and follow through. Now, I’m disciplined, but only insofar as the pursuit of my choosing remains interesting, but as we already talked about I’m not so much for the long attention span.

This is where you come in.

I have three major goals for the next year that require so much planning, hard-work, and marathon-like commitment that I have come to the conclusion that I need to self-impose the kind of accountability and discipline that will…well…make me disciplined and accountable.

What are the goals, you ask? Oh, boy…here we go…

 

Goal 1: Finish my novel.

Yes, I’m a geek writing a novel. I mean, hello, I’m one of the self-indulgent millions who write a blog. Is it that far a jump to being part of the throng of “self-publishing” authors in the world?

It’s important to me to have done it at least once to see if I have a voice worth reading. Or perhaps just to see if I have a voice at all. Do I have anything to say? Moreover, do I have anything of value to say?

I hope to find out.

 

Goal 2: Size 8.

Yes, yes, I know…everyone wants to lose weight and look great, but it’s more than that for me. I want to prove that I can. I want to feel what it’s like to accomplish something that changes my life that way – to be healthier, stronger, to feel better, to feel confident again, and to learn how to take care of my body and maintain this incredible machine we’re all given into a ripe (and preferable diaperless and tooth-having) old age.

I want that feeling. I want that knowledge.

And I want to fit into these two incredible dresses in my closet. I technically still fit inside of them, but I look less like an hourglass wrapped in fablulousness than a pork loin stuffed in a sausage casing.

 

Goal 3: Go to Europe.

Again, I hear you: “Everyone wants to go to Europe.” And, yes, everyone does. But it’s the why that makes this so important to me. I’m not a stupid woman, but I’m also not a genius. I’m no doctor or lawyer or engineer. I’ll probably never be rich, and I wasn’t brought up in a very cultured environment. Hell, I just learned about six months ago that in a formal table setting the bread goes on the left and the drink goes on the right (as taught to me with hand symbol reminders by my awesome boss while at a business luncheon).

I know I am consciously incompetent to what the rest of the world has to offer, and I know I want to change that. I want to dive into new cultures, foreign languages, scary experiences, and great adventures in hopes that I will continue to push my boundaries, open my mind, and ultimately enrich my life and the lives of the people with whom I interact.

And thus commences Project Finish Line:

One woman.

Three life-changing goals.

Eleven months to the finish line, and…

One blog per week the reporting my progress, or lack thereof, to ensure public humiliation as the penance for failure, thereby cementing my commitment. (OMG that’s like 44 blogs. You poor people!!)

So take a deep breath…here we go…

Just One More Minute – I Need to Find an Outfit to Tell the World Who I Want to Be Today…

Among my many other substance abuse problems (think coffee, chocolate, wine, half-finished DIY projects…) I am also a self-admitted Fashion Fanatic. Hopelessly addicted to accessories, inevitably lured by the delicate arch of the perfect high heeled boot, irrevocably attracted to the colors, cuts, draping, patterns, and distressed details of fabric lovingly sewn (or more likely harshly stitched by machines) together to create not just a piece of clothing but a statement.

Yes, this addiction is at total odds with previous posts citing my desire to return to basics a la Walking Dead Wyoming. I do desire that, truly. If I was a machete-wielding zombie-killer survivalist, my attire would only ever consist of boots, jeans, flannel, and any riot gear I could lift of some poor dead sucker.

But, alas, that is not (yet) to be.

And, thus, I am cast in the typical (which in and of itself is atypical for me…) roll of shoe-hoarding girly-girl. And my tastes in fashion are just as eclectic (eccentric) as everything else in which I’m interest. Just check out my Pinterest page.

Though I’ve never run myself into debt over clothing (even I have my limits) I can totally sympathize with Isla Fisher’s character in Confessions of a Shopoholic, and I would almost be willing to undergo the hell of Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada.

I am neither of these incredible ladies, nor do I have anywhere near the bank roll to finance that kind of wardrobe, BUT – I get it. Perhaps I lack the stereotype size 2 figure (reference Featured Image – ha!), the self control to eat a cube of cheese as a meal, nor the superior attitude of the Hollywood portrayal of the fashion forward, but I. DO. Get it.

For many, clothing is simply a method of covering skin in such a way that they’re allowed to frequent places important to basic survival – work, banking establishments, the bar… And they are probably so much more balanced than I am, but oh! How I love that my clothes speak a thousand words before my mouth ever opens.

They help me tell my story in 30 seconds or less. They let me wear the person I want to be at any given moment. I can reinvent myself five times a day. Trade a skirt for ripped up skinny jeans and forego heeled boots in favor of up-cycled combat boots, and poof! – From put-together powerhouse boss-lady to laid-back, fun-loving badass without breaking a sweat. Tadaaaa!

How can you not love that kind of chameleonic transformation? I believe it’s the closest we can come to magic in the real world.

So, yes, I have too many shoes to count, an entire wall dedicated to scarves & jewelry, and an entire closet (and two giant drawers) filled with every many of attire you can think of, but I think of it less as too much clothing and more like a well-stocked communication strategy.

To Thine Own Self Be True

Once in a while something I hear sticks with me in such a way that it is

Even when it seems like the wheel of fate is deciding, you always have a choice.

Even when it seems like the wheel of fate is deciding, you always have a choice.

stored in my personal memory vault of World View information. I would love to say that those dusty corners of my mind are exclusively populated by the likes of Sun Tzu and Henry David Thoreau. The truth is these fine minds oft find themselves in the dining company of Eminem, random movie stars, the occasional anonymous Pinterest quote, and one-liners from others who have briefly yet permanently touched my life.

The Daily Prompt called up a quote from the movie Renaissance Man. (Okay, well actually it comes from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but I’m a big enough person to admit that I first heard it in the movie.)

The prompt actually asked whether or not I read fiction and why, but the word choice is what sticks out to me today as I’m currently in the midst of some ridiculously difficult choices which really don’t feel like choices at all given the various alternatives.

“The choices you make dictate the life you lead.”

I simultaneously wish that people would embrace this concept and stop blaming their lives on circumstance while also nursing a fervent desire that fate truly was the master of my destiny.

While nothing – NOTHING! – irritates and disgusts me more than someone plaintively whining about or passively accepting their lot in their very changeable life, I also dream of the ease of letting someone else decide.

Wouldn’t it be nice to look to the universe for – and find! – signs that help you know you are forging ahead in the right direction? Or to simply sit down and pray at the end of the day and know that tomorrow’s decisions are already made? That choices really aren’t choices, and no matter what you do the outcome with be as it should be?

Given my profession, I have my own superstitions – never say the “Q” Word (quite), don’t “tempt fate” by talking about certain events, don’t make plans for vacations during fire/flood/hurricane season (And yes I recognize that pretty much means don’t make plans. Ever.). I also watch football, and I am reasonably certain that when I watch games we have a better chance at winning. (I’d tell you what team I support, but obviously that could jinx our chances, so….) I may even believe in karma. I’ve experienced enough of it to feel like there could be something to it.

But never in my life have I believed that passively accepting the unacceptable is an option.

Our lives are the product of but one thing: We. Make. Choices.

Your choices may, frankly, suck as I’m currently being reminded. It may be the classic “shit or shinola” scenario, but you still have a choice.

Quitting your job is a choice: risk not being able to pay your bills or be miserable is a choice.

Having an affairs is a choice: risk a horribly awkward and painful conversation and hurt someone or avoid that conversation and most likely hurt someone anyway (whilst also compromising your integrity) is a choice.

Buying a car, taking the bus, getting married, having a baby, choosing to stay single and free, waking up late, working out, eating healthy, crossing the street when the light is still red, saying something mean in the heat of an argument, or even doing nothing – THESE ARE ALL CHOICES.

So I urge you – and me – to remember that. Believe that. And try to make the choices that will make you better, stronger, braver, more fearless.

Or, rather, I urge you to make the choices you believe are the right choices for you. I might make different choices in the same situation, but that is why our lives are so exceptional – because they are all different, all fraught with risk and adventure, terror and elation, joy and sorrow.

The choices you make dictate the life you lead!!!!

Don’t let them be made for you. If you do, then you’re missing the point.