Thoughts on Ungratefulness…

I can be an ungrateful person sometimes.  I like to think that, for the most part, I’m pretty aware of those around me and I appreciate the things I’ve been given, both by other people and by God.  I have great parents, a great husband, and a great kitty.  I’m not one of the ten-plus percent of this country without a job.  I’m in relatively good physical health, and although I’m not in the best mental health right now, I’m neither suicidal nor homicidal, and I can manage to convince myself to get out of bed every morning (if for no other reason than to go to work so we don’t end up in the street).  I have a home that’s not more than I can afford, and I have the luxury to have a “food tantrum” when I don’t know what I want for dinner.  We’ve been blessed with enough money to pay for our needs and a few “wants” as well.  I’m incredibly thankful for all of this.

But, I also know that I’m not immune to ungratefulness; I get irritated when there’s nothing I want to watch on the 120 channels we currently have, when less than a year ago, we only had twenty.  I wonder why we couldn’t have even a 1200-foot house, when I should be grateful for the 1100 square feet I do have.  I get resentful when we can’t go out to nice restaurants when we have enough money to afford our groceries.  When I think about these things, I’m ashamed of myself and of my attitude.

So often, though, I’m confronted with ungratefulness without shame….people who complain about their wealth and the “burden” of it.  Seriously? If your wealth is so burdensome that you find yourself exhausted every day because you just can’t seem to find enough ways to spend it all, then you should take some serious time to think about what that says about you as a person.  If it’s so exhausting, then why not give it away (try suggesting that and see what kind of reaction you’ll get!)?  It always amazes me that ungrateful-and-shameless people never think twice about complaining about their wealth to people who don’t have nearly as much.  And I don’t think twice about rolling my eyes when someone complains to me about what a burden it is to keep up a 4000 square foot home.  Really?  Think about how ridiculous that sounds.

So, my irritation with “rich people” and their “rich people problems” today brought me to the place where I realized my own ungratefulness, and I think it’s time for a big lifestyle shift.  While I am by no means wealthy, I am affluent according to the global definition; I have a roof over my head, electricity, running water, a toilet in my house, food in my fridge, a car to drive, a tv to suck my brain…and on a more fundamental level, I have hands and feet that work, eyes with which to see and read, ears to hear music, and a voice to speak and sing. 

I’ve always been interested in simple, sustainable living, but the events of the day have sealed it for me.  Stay tuned.

Advertisements

Monthly Update, I Guess…

Check this out:

image

I saw it at Metrolina Expo last weekend….I texted the picture to Joey and he told me to buy it.  So, I did.  It looks better on my wrist anyway:)

image

It’s been quite a month here in Chez Weaver.  I’ve deferred my graduation until summer to give me more time to put in a good effort on my remaining class and have another two months after that for my thesis.  That has helped immensely with the stress, but couple that with some work stress that I probably shouldn’t blog about, and it’s been a month of aggravation and futility.  I’m working through it, but for some reason or another, I’m finding it to be more difficult than I have in the past few years.  I’m going to wait until school is done to make sure it’s not just my life circumstances before I start reevaluating my meds, though.

We’re taking a “staycation” this weekend…skipped church today and haven’t gone anywhere and done much.  Yesterday, we did visit the new Grand Asia Market in Stallings, and it was really cool.  They’ve got a restaurant, sushi bar, and bakery and a full grocery store…there was so much stuff I’d never seen before!  Also, their spices are really cheap, so I think we’ll go there from now on to get our spices and some produce.  And, there was like FIFTY kinds of tofu.  AWESOME.  Love me some tofu.  Mostly, though, we’ve relaxed, watched some tv, and worked on school stuff.  I got one of my novels for my thesis re-read yesterday, and I plan to go back through all of the research articles I have on it today.  But right now, I’m having coffee and chilling on the couch with the windows open getting ready to watch Ice Spiders on Syfy:)

I’ve been eating Primally for the past week, and I’ve already lost 8 pounds.  I forgot how easy it is and how much I enjoy it.  Since I’m on the fence as to where I lie on the spectrum concerning the Christian view of the Creation versus Evolution debate, I’m not necessarily married to the Paleo Diet…there will always be room for cheese in my book;).  However, I’ve been impressed by the simultaneous ease of the lifestyle and inventiveness that it inspires with food.  This morning, I made “Primal Panckes” with eggs, almond flour, cinnamon and vanilla.  Topped with warmed strawberries and hand-whipped cream, and you’ve got some tasty goodness for sure. 

Other things I’ve noticed in the past week:

  1. I’ve had a headache (part of what they describe as the “carb flu,’ I think.
  2. However, I’ve had more energy and greater focus.
  3. Much to Joey’s pleasure, I’ve had less gass.
  4. However, my poop has been like rocks (I need more green veggies, methinks)
  5. Sweetened things are waaaay too sweet to me.  I had Joey put 1/2 a pack of Truvia in my coffee this morning, and he’s already done two “warm ups” for me without adding any sweetener.  It was too sweet to begin with.
  6. I’m less hungry in general
  7. I have a better sense of when I am actually hungry as opposed to when I’m simply wanting to eat.

Also, I’m on a self-imposed “Facebook Hiatus.”  I’d been thinking about it for the last three weeks or so, and my friend Shannon posted yesterday that she was doing it.  We texted back and forth about it for most of the day, and I decided to go ahead and do it also.  I’d actually considered deactivating my account entirely, but I’m not ready to take that step yet (I’ve reunited both with my best friend from third grade and my best friend from sixth grade, so I do think there’s a use in Facebook).  However, it can take over your life.  Joey and I are also going back to “dumb phones” next week and getting rid of our data plan (for unrelated reasons), and I’m actually excited about it.  I never thought I would be…but I’m sick of hearing the notification indicator going off, honestly.  Texting with my close friends is good enough for me.

So, there you have it folks.  I’m hoping to blog more often…I miss it…and I think I’m starting to figure out how to navigate these next few months.

Scenic Drive, Cade’s Cove, and Good Eatin’

Greetings from another morning at the Smoky Bear Campground!  I’m the only one up yet today.  I woke up at about 6:50 and tried to convince myself that I didn’t need to pee but it wasn’t working, so I went ahead and got up and showered and everything.  They’ve got a really clean bath house, and every time I’ve been up there to shower, I’ve been all by myself, so that’s nice.  Anyway, on to yesterday’s events:

We ate breakfast at Flapjacks (no photo, sorry…the seating was extremely awkward and the four women next to us didn’t seem too thrilled to be in such close quarters as we did, so I didn’t want to totally weird them out by taking pictures of my food).  I had the “Healthy Egg Breakfast,” which was two Egg Beaters, two multigrain pancakes, and a banana.  The banana was still green and tart (my favorite!)…but it was amusing that even the healthy breakfast came with this HUGE glob of butter on the side.  I took a tiny bit for my pancakes and then did my best to move everything on my plate as far away from it as possible.  They had good coffee, though.

After a detour to the Gatlinburg Welcome Center to get some info (I also met this woman in the gift shop whose ring tone was the theme to The Golden Girls.  Totally awesome.  She said that there are four of them and each of them kind of reminds the others of one of the characters and they all have the same ringtone.  What a trip), we hit the road for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to visit Cade’s Cove, where there was a scenic drive with lots of spots to stop.  Here’s a shot from the first overlook:

image

We also stopped along the river and the boys and Shannon climbed out on some rocks to get pics of the waterfall, but I was too afraid to navigate the rocks in my Adidas flops, so I stayed at the top and watched them. 

The Scenic Loop at Cade’s Cove is 11 miles and it’s only 20 MPH all the way through.  There are also ten or so sites to stop at that, I’m sure if we’d gotten the booklet at their welcome center, would have had great historical significance.  The boys got more shots, but I got this one of an ooooold cabin.  See the little bird’s nest up in the corner of the window?  The whole place was empty, but you could walk through all the rooms and see how they lived.  The fireplace had been ripped out, but you could see where it was.  Pretty amazing.  We also stopped at several old churches and cemeteries. 

image

We saw a coyote, four bears, TONS of wild turkeys, and lots of deer, too.  Joey got some pics of the coyote and deer, and James hung out the window and got lots of pics, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty to share once we get them all downloaded.

This is James and Shannon out on the rocks…Wordpress put the pics out of order and is being pissy right now, so excuse the out-of-order stories;).  There were lots of people tubing in the river, which we never could make sense of since there are so many really shallow and rocky spots.   There were also LOTS of women who felt the need to show loooots of flesh.

image

This was another shot from the overlook.  Beautiful view!

image

It POURED on us during the last part of the ride, so bad that we really couldn’t see much, so we headed back to the camper to make “lunch” (in quotes because we didn’t eat lunch until 5 and dinner until 10).  James grilled chicken thighs, Joey did diced potatoes in the skillet, and Shannon warmed some green beans (and I did the dishes afterward, so don’t say I’m lazy, Mom;) ).  James did an AWESOME job on the chicken and Joey on the potatoes as well…added a little BBQ sauce and we were in heaven.  No pic.  I’m growing very forgetful here on this trip about food pics, although I’m hoping it’s a sign of my relaxation.

Dinner was also pic-less, but not for lack of want.  See below:

image

:).  Love campfire.  I roasted a Hebrew National hotdog over the fire until it was well-charred (like, I couldn’t really tell if it was done or not anyway because it was dark and Shannon finally said, “Melanie, the end is pretty black…”).  I had it with a few BBQ chips.  We sat out by the fire until 1 in the morning, and then hit the sack.

This is the best kind of vacation ever.  There’s really not much to do, we haven’t spent a ton of money (although horseback riding was a little expensive, but well worth it).  It’s also so wonderful to have friends with whom we can be totally ourselves, without having to be “on” all of the time.  If we talk, that’s great, but if we don’t, and we just sit in the car together or sit by the fire together, that’s great, too.  It’s been such a long time since I’ve had a chance to do this and just let things go.  Everyone needs this…we make our lives so busy, both intentionally (to mute our thoughts) and unintentionally (to try to please everyone around us).  We’re doing ourselves in.  The slower lifestyle is definitely the healthier one, and I’m going to take that to heart from now on.  My lifesyle has been unsustainable these past few years, and I’m going to stop that.

Well, I don’t know what’s on for today, but you can be sure I’ll photograph it and blog it tomorrow:). And a hummingbird just flew by as I was typing this….too bad I didn’t have any sugar water.  She was brave…probably would have landed on the table if I’d had it.  Good day, folks:).

New Year’s Resolutions: 2009 Update and 2010 List

So, let’s see how I did with my goals for last year:

1. To get close to my goal weight by July/August (which should be attainable)  I didn’t make it to my goal weight and ended up gaining ten pounds.
2. To run a 5K in April/May (which I’ve already started training for)  I realized that I hate running.
3. To buy only thrift-store clothing this year (which I’ve been doing since April of last year!!)  I was almost totally successful here.  I bought maybe three articles of clothing and they were on clearance from Kohls!
4. To finish knitting my sweater by March  *sigh*.  Nope.  I did get the front and back knitted up.  Just need to seam the neck and do the sleeves.
5. To learn to knit cables (I’ve already got the pattern and recipient in mind!!)  I did learn to knit cables!  But I didn’t do much with it.
6. To give 100% homemade Christmas gifts this year (and not buy anything, even the packaging!).  I was almost 100% successful on this, and the two gifts that I didn’t do homemade were donations to charities in memory of someone special, so I didn’t feel that it was a failure.
7. To sell a craft this year, whether it be on Etsy, or at a local craft festival, or whatever…  No dice.  School took up most of my knitting time this year.
8. To shop at a farmer’s market this year (local produce, here I come!!)  I did this a few times, and I want to make it a regular habit in the new year!
9. To keep the house more organized and get rid of things when we don’t need them anymore (Started this one on New Year’s day!!)  Big no here.  The house still looks like a totally awful wreck.
10. To go camping!  Twice!  Once in a tent in sleet!

 #1 was my most disappointing failure this year…since I tend to focus too much on the negative, it’s hard for me to look at the list and be pleased that I managed to do most of the things on there.  But, you know, I think it’s the first year that I did get so many things accomplished, so I’m trying to give myself a little slack.  There’s a whole new year to accomplish everything that I can!

So, without further adieu, here’s my 2010 list; the topics are in keeping with my major blog topics:

1.   Food/Fitness:  This year, I want to examine my dysfunctional relationship with food and heal it.  I want to get a better idea of the things that work best for me, not food blog “fads” or plans from magazines…I want to figure out what foods are bad for me personally and what ones make me feel best and focus on coming up with a way of eating that highlights the latter while minimizing the former.  I also want to become one of those people I envy when it comes to exercise; I want to become someone who likes exercise and who looks for ways to fit it into everyday life and makes it a priority.  I want to love it.

2.  Frugality:  We definitely need to renew our focus on frugality this year.  I think that, partway through last year, we became a little ambivalent toward being the people who forego things to save money and we slacked off.  This year, I want to have a renewed focus on saving money, on cutting out takeout food and making more things from home and on looking for ways to cut expenses and make a little more dough here and there.  I also want to grow some of our own produce this year, whether it’s just a few things in pots or something larger-scale.

3.  Knitting:  This year, I want to learn to do colorwork and incorporate it into my projects this year.  I also want to incorporate cables into my work this year.  I really enjoyed the handmade Christmas project, so I want to do that again this year, but have individual gifts for everyone in my family and to incorporate color in those.  I also want to finish this freaking sweater this year:).  All I need to do is seam the top together for the neck and pick up stitches and knit down the sleeves.  I should be able to finish that by the end of January.  I want to start my Christmas knitting earlier so I’m not scrambling too badly in December.

4.  Simple Living:  I want to move toward a much more minimalist lifestyle.  I know that I’ll never be one of those “100 possessions” kind of people, but I also know that there’s a lot in this house that isn’t necessary and that we can remove.  I want to get rid of stuff, examine what stuff really matters, and not feel so obligated to keep so much stuff for sentimental reasons.  I’ve been so happy since I quit the band in August, so I’m not going to take on any new responsibilities right now since Joey and I have so much going on.  I want to refocus on making things from scratch…I find that, when I try, making things from scratch really isn’t that much harder than getting the “convenient” version.

Those are my big things for the year…with #1 being my greatest focus.  I can’t afford to let that one go anymore.  I don’t feel healthy and I don’t like it.

Here’s to 2010, and I hope that it brings all the best!

The Blur That Was 2009

This year:

  1. I started graduate school and completed five classes, getting straight A’s in each.
  2. Joey and I went to the beach for a short weekend getaway.
  3. We spent every moment possible hanging out with James before he left for Iraq for the year.
  4. I made a lifelong friend in Shannon and we got to be a part of the Garzoni family.
  5. We camped in July and October, the latter in tents and with sleet.
  6. I sprained my ankle.
  7. We took James to Indy to report for duty and, for the first time, I had to say goodbye to a friend as he went off to war.
  8. I learned to knit cables.
  9. I finally got control over my depression and anxiety and found out that I’m stronger than I think I am.
  10. I made an almost-100% handmade Christmas.

I also started a food blog, started writing as a featured publisher for FoodBuzz, and I started writing for Examiner.com as Charlotte’s Frugal Living Examiner (yes, I’ve been super-slack this month).  And, one of the most important things that happened this year was that I became a vegetarian after we lost Lady in February.

Time always goes so much faster than you want it to.  I’ve noticed this already…last month, Joey and I celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary.  My ten-year high school reunion (which I couldn’t attend) was this past weekend.  Ten years.  I don’t feel that much older.  I don’t feel like my family is that much older.  It all went so fast.

However, this year, I think I’m ready for 2010.  While I am proud of what I was able to do in 2009, I also left a lot undone:

  1. I was not successful in my diet/exercise endeavors and, in fact, gained ten pounds this year.
  2. I continue to procrastinate at school, which makes me feel like I’m squandering a huge opportunity I’m being given.
  3. I let my frugality go for the sake of convenience…takeout, the grocery store near the house, etc.
  4. I did not declutter my house.

So, there are things that I want to tackle in 2010…a list will come later, but I know that I’m ready to let 2009 be the past and to jump headfirst into 2010.

Merry (Rainy and Blustery) Christmas

I joked all week at the weather report that God must be really pissed about Christmas this year….they called for a NASTYNASTY rainy and blustery day on Christmas day, bookended by beautiful days.  So weird.  But, looking out the window right now, they were totally right…it’s pouring and windy and gross and it sounds very tornadic.  They are even calling for thunderstorms this afternoon.  So, maybe God’s finally had enough of our consumerism and desire for huge, showy productions and displays that we seem to think will absolve us of the fact that we spend the rest of the year pretending like He doesn’t exist.  I know, that’s a downer, but I got to thinking…every time I hear someone say “remember the reason for the season” I get a little irritated.  If “He” was the real reason for the season, there wouldn’t be all of this crap.  There would be contemplation, reflection, prayer, thanksgiving, and outreach…not crowded stores full of people muscling each other out of the way to get the last “Zhu Zhu” Hamster thing or whatever the hell it’s called.  There wouldn’t be having to make sure that the Christmas cards are better than everyone else’s were last year.  There wouldn’t be the five million commitments and the “you have to bring a fifteen dollar gift to the party…and it better be something that people will actually want.” 

There would be feet to the pavement.  There would be feeding the poor.  There would be donating to animal shelters.  There would be homeless animal adoptions.  There would be giving gifts, real gifts, to people in need.  There would be loving your neighbor.  There would be time spent together, not in “sanctioned, structured events,” but in simple gatherings to eat together and share the year’s joys…and maybe even sorrows.

This year, we cut back on commitments, and we are giving handmade gifts (with two exceptions which I can’t blog about yet).  I have to be honest, it’s liberating to let go of the “trappings” of the season…I don’t know that our focus has been perfect, in fact, probably far from it, but it’s easier to focus on the “reason” when there are fewer distractions vying for attention.

Before next Chrismas, make a list of what you normally do each year.  Then, take a long, hard look at it and think about whether or not it is consistent with your faith, with why you celebrate.  If it’s not, change it until it is, or try to cut it out entirely.  It doesn’t have to mean a boring and uneventful holiday.  And, it may just give you new focus and meaning when you tell someone, “Merry Christmas.”

God bless us, everyone.

Establishing Morning and Evening Routines…

So, I’ve previously discussed how I need to get myself into regular routines in the morning and evening (that consist of more than complaining about how worn out I am and then doing the bare minimum to be able to function…allegedly).   But it’s much easier said than done, yes?  And I don’t know about you, but with me, I enjoy thinking about what I’m going to do more than actually implementing it.  The planning is fun, but the working?  Not so much.

But, plan we must!  Let’s think about our ideal morning and evening routines; what would they include?  Here’s mine:

Morning:

  • Wake up, 5ish
  • do yoga
  • shower/dry hair, etc.
  • read a little Bible
  • have breakfast
  • drop lunch in lunchbox
  • dress and leave for work.

This really doesn’t look a lot different than what I do now…the yoga and Bible are new things; however, I’m already getting up at 5:20 am as it is.  To fit these things in, some forethought and planning needs to happen at night to get rid of morning time-wasters.  Here’s what I want to incorporate into my evening routine (this is after dinner and whatnot);

Evening

  • lay out clothes for tomorrow
  • put lunch for tomorrow together and have together in fridge
  • face/teeth/meds
  • read in bed

My normal evening routine now is:  tv, tv, tv, get irritated at Joey for forcing me to brush my teeth, fall into bed.  But honest, to add preparing lunch and hanging up clothes for the next day really doesn’t add that much time.  And adding just ten minutes to my PM routine would save twenty or thirty minutes the next morning.

The next step?  Looking at simple ways to start incorporating what we WANT in our routine.  Before I go to bed, I’m going to think about what I’ll wear tomorrow, and I’m going to fold it up and put it on the dresser.  A small step, yes, but a step nonetheless.

How about you?  What do you want to add to your regular routines?  What do you need to get rid of?