Saturday, September 05, 2020

Time is of Essence

When I was a little girl and my mom woke me up in the morning for school I always felt like time went by so fast. One morning, as my mom was pulling at my hair to make my ponytails, I asked her, "Why does time go by faster in the morning when I'm getting dressed for school?" My mother, being a mom, thought that was adorable and repeated it to my dad and family. 


Time is tricky. At least it always has been for me, since I was a little girl, and even now as an older woman. Sometimes I wake up earlier than usual on a weekend and I think that I have so much time, only to find myself getting on my Peloton, or running errands, just as late as the days when I wake up later. 

Recently I was thinking about the years that I belonged to an organized religion and all of the time spent in worship and preaching. At one time we had three meetings a week, two lasted for two hours and one lasted one hour. We also went out preaching on Saturdays and occasionally on Sundays. Add on top of that, the time to get ready, the drive time and the time spent chitchatting after the meeting. If I am being conservative, I spent twelve hours per week on religion, possibly fifteen. I was a part of that religion from birth until I was forty-two. Those are a lot of years and a lot of hours. 

Since I left my religion in 2012 I have given myself back fifteen hours a week. What have I been doing with that time since 2012? Seven of those years were taken up by Miranda's lacrosse. Her father and I spent a lot of time taking her, picking her up, and going to games. So I know where that time went. I also spent time driving my dad to church and to his restaurant and picking him up.

My father has been gone for two and a half years now. Miranda graduated from high school one year ago, so now I ask myself, "Where did those 15 hours per week go this last year?" AND more importantly, now that I am aware of these 15 hours that I've gifted myself, what am I going to do with that time now?

Let's add something else into the mix. I have been working from home for 25 weeks now, 12 of those have been at my new job. Working from home has added back two hours per day that I used commuting. That's 10 hours per week. So now I'm at 25 hours per week! That's approximately 3.5 hours per day of extra time! 

Let me ask that question again. "What am I going to do with that extra time?" That leaves so many extra hours in the week to do the things that I love, like writing, reading, working on my little libraries, learning about art, making art, working on my cemetery preservation project and making time to exercise. The trick is not letting other things rob me of that time. 

This year has been a lot about self-discipline. I've been working on balance and choices. I need to work on these things to make the time to work out. I also need self-discipline to eat right, to make the right choices, and to do things I want to do. I also need to be self-disciplined about my time. 

For example, I feel like my whole life I've been trying to write fiction. I start and I restart, but I never give it the time I should. I let other things get in the way and lead me astray, time and time again. I am tired of doing that and if I am ever going to get anything worthwhile written it needs to be now. I need to reserve part of those fifteen hours a week strictly for writing. 

I am fifty years old and if there are two things I want to accomplish in this short life that I have left is this. I want to get to the point when exercise and eating healthy are second nature AND I want to be a published writer. Second, I want to spend time on things that bring me joy like reading, art, and my non-profit work. I cannot use the excuse that I don't have the time. Period.

Monday, July 27, 2020

One Hundred and Fifty Rides, Self-Sabotage, and What I Want

I reached 100 rides on my Peloton right before my 49th birthday in 2019. I then set a very lofty goal and said I was going to try to reach 200 rides by my 50th birthday. What I didn't know was that it wasn't going to be that easy for many reasons, starting with my own self-sabotage.

I made this meme modeled after one I saw about running.

The first reason or excuse that I had was that I pulled my rotator cuff in January. Of course I could have done rides that didn't involve weights at all, but I used that as an excuse. I kept saying that I was waiting for it to get better and the more I waited and didn't do anything the more time went by. Little did I know that in a few months I was going to have a real reason why I wouldn't be able to ride. It kind of reminds me of when you call in sick to work and then after you do you really get sick and you end up having to miss more days. That's how it was with me and not riding. Halfway through the year I started complaining about my toe hurting and we all know what happened there, if you've read my blog or follow me on social media.

After everything that I went through, both personally, in my head, and in my body, yesterday I completed 150 rides on my bike. It took me a year and five months to complete 50 more rides. Instead of concentrating on what I didn't do I am working very hard to think of what I have done. Because that is one of the ways that I self-sabotage every single time.

I've been doing a lot of self examination about my weaknesses this past month. I've talked about my allergy to shellfish before and how I wish I could see carbs the same way. I finally had Miranda make me a picture of a cupcake with a shrimp on top to drive the point home. I asked her to also make a cocktail glass with a shrimp on the side instead of a lemon wedge.

Image by Miranda Ruiz

As I face my demons I also face all the ways that I self-sabotage. I know them all. I know how I do it and I still do it. When I read the blog about self-sabotage that I linked to in the third paragraph it makes me sad that I've been writing about my weight, exercise and my health for so long. Not just the 15 years I've been writing this blog. Prior to this blog, marriage and children I used to journal. The topic took up so many pages of those journals from the age of 14 to 27.

I was telling a friend of mine that all I really want is to get to place where I want to be, healthy mainly, and I want to just maintain. I think of Zig Ziglar's analogy of the water pump. At first you have to pump really hard to get the water to come up. But once you get the water to come out, all you have to do is keep a steady pressure on the handle. That's what I want. I want to get to the point where all I have to do is keep a steady hand on my exercise and eating. I want to get to the point where I don't have to talk about it so much, unless it's to motivate others with my story. And when I get there I want for my story to be that it's never too late to get to that place. 

I post and blog about my Peloton because I want to motivate regular people. I want them to know that you don't have to be an athlete to work out on a Peloton. You can be a regular middle aged over-weight mom who is still on her inner journey. Most importantly, I do it to hold myself accountable and to motivate myself until I get to that place where I want to be.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Updates and Random Things

1. I changed jobs in the middle of this Pandemic and shocked everyone. I left the Chronicle on June 10 and started working at Houston Public Media at UH on June 15, selling corporate sponsorships. I'm really excited to learn about radio, tv and especially public media. I've been very passionate about HPM for a while now and I'm thrilled to be part of an NPR station. As always Portada magazine is awesome about announcing my moves.



2. My Little Libraries in Laundromats movement is continuing. I have a website, I was on the Nuestra Palabra radio show promoting it. 

3. I've been journaling again and it feels good. Honestly, having kids and then having this blog, and recording our life on Facebook affects my personal writing and also saving photos. They all live on FB and Instagram now!

4. I've been thinking about my thesis too and I always think about revisiting that subject and writing about it twenty years later, with all my added real-life experience. I'm thinking about reading through it, retyping it (because who are we kidding, I have no idea where that electronic file is) and within each example that I give, backed up by research, inserting a real life example from the years I've spent in Corporate America. I think that would be an interesting exercise. The topic of my thesis was gender in communication, specifically when we enter an organization.

5. Now that I'm working at UH I'm interested in teaching a class as a lecturer and I've gotten the ball rolling for the future, after this pandemic and when we go back to a somewhat normal life again. I realize that may be a few semesters but that's okay, I need the time to learn my new job anyway. 

6. I'm back in the saddle again with my Peloton now that my toe issues are behind me. I continue to work on myself and to think back on the last few months. I'm thinking of tattooing a little number 9 on my arm, close to where they picc line went in, as a reminder of the 9 weeks that I had it in and as a reminder that I never want to experience anything like that again. The only way to ensure that is to take care of myself by exercising and eating well. 

7. Seth, my youngest, is going to be a junior in high school next year. There's so much work to do, including applying for scholarships and getting his volunteer hours done. But what that also means for me is that my #threeyearplan is now a #twoyearplan.

8. I do feel like my new job is part of  my two year plan. Why wait until Seth is gone to school to do something different? There is no time like the present! This gives me two years to really learn my new career and to become good at it and then who know what may be next.  I want to really "Lean In" now that the kids are going to be grown. There's also a novel or two to write.

No, I am never satisfied and I always want more and I have come to accept that and embrace it. I saw a quote recently that I loved. "Life is too short to be unhappy and you don't want to fill your brief time on this planet with activities that deplete your vitality." SO TRUE! I want to live the best part of my life in this last one third.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Week 11 of Stay at Home Order - Working from Home

Last time I blogged I said we were at 9+ weeks of stay at home, but I counted wrong and we were actually at 8+ weeks. This week we hit 11 weeks of Stay at Home/Work from Home. When this all started we had no idea it would go on this long. Nobody imagined it would be this long.

Today I'm also 13 weeks post surgery! Then four weeks ago the doctor had to do a little minor cut on the inside of my toe nail and this time I gave myself more time to heal, as much I wanted to go walking or to get on the Peloton. People told me I pushed myself too hard, too soon, last time, so I have tried to be patient.

My Big Toe and Scar

The good news is that I've been cleared by my infectious disease doctor. He said not to come back unless I have an issue. I was so happy and so grateful to him for all his attention and for going with his gut feeling about my toe and sending me to that second MRI.

I'm also grateful to my podiatrist who did the actual surgery to remove the infection from the bone. Look at my toe! The scar is visible across the top, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be. I actually like it. This scar will be a reminder to me of how close I came to losing my toe and what I have to do in my life to keep that from happening. Namely, to exercise at least four times a week and to watch my carb intake. That is my life from now on until I die. Literally until I die. The less I do it, the earlier I'll die, the more I do, it the longer I'll live. That's all there is to it. 

Week 11 and Week 13. Those are good weeks, significant weeks. I have SO MUCH to be grateful for. I am so grateful to my company who has kept us employed through this all. I'm so grateful for being a part of a newspaper that has been providing Houston with daily news during this pandemic. I am so grateful to my doctors who have helped me get better.

I have been working on practicing gratitude since I've been working at home.

Questions I try to ask myself, or you can see them as writing prompts.

What was the my happiest moment today?

What do I want to do next?

What's my heart's true desire right now?

What do I really really really want?

Refine my mantra...

When death comes I want to quote the poet Mary Oliver in her poem, "When Death Comes."

“When it’s over, I want to say all my life/ I was a bride married to amazement/I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Still in Quarantine and Working on Little Libraries in Laundromats

Here we are at 9 weeks+ of stay at home. As stay at home restrictions are being lifted, many people are going back out while we are in self-quarantine because we want to be socially responsible. Miranda came home from New York (Long Island) a week ago. Originally anyone coming in from states like New York and Louisiana were asked to quarantine. Miranda said that when she landed in Houston last Saturday nobody asked her anything. Regardless, we are trying to do the right thing and we're staying at home.

It's wonderful having Miranda home. She's already done something huge for me. She created the logo for my personal project Little Libraries in Laundromats. I have it up on the website and Facebook page.


At nine weeks since surgery I went in for check-ups with my infectious disease doctor and my podiatrist and I had an ingrown toenail on the right side of my toenail, yes, the same toe that had surgery. Lovely. It's always some bullshit with me. Seriously. Hopefully this is IT.

I haven't blogged about my Little Libraries in Laundromats project on here. It is a project that is near and dear to my heart right now. It all started when I decided to start a Little Free Library outside my house, on the sidewalk at the corner.

My Little Free Library
Then I was listening to NPR and I heard this story about the City of Milwaukee and how they have an initiative to start little libraries inside of laundromats. I was intrigued with the idea so I searched to see if we had anything similar going on in Houston. The only thing I found was a woman in Kingwood who started a Little Free Library in her own laundromat. Other than that I didn't find an actual city-wide or state initiative. I found another national group called Laundromat Library League but they aren't in Texas. I almost contacted them about expanding their organization to Texas but then I changed my mind.

I thought that since I have already started a relationship with Little Free Library organization with my own library that I should just continue with that organization. I contacted them and I asked them if I could set up Little Free Library Charters in laundromats around the city and they were game. They said that as long as each one had a charter sign it was good.

I started out with four libraries in Near Northside, but one got stolen, as in completely. Someone stole the whole thing, books, box, the whole kit and caboodle. Then toegate happened, followed by pandemic, so I haven't been able to go out and find a new fourth location. My immediate goal is to have five. I want to replace the one I lost, plus one.

I do not intend to cover the entire city. My real goal is to get people to start a little library in a laundromat in their own neighborhood. If I can get the whole city engaged then we can all, as a city, cover our own neighborhood. I don't think that is too lofty a goal.

So I'm waiting for this quarantine to be over so I can set out to find new laundromats and to refill my little libraries. If anyone wants to contribute books or help in any way go to the Little Libraries in Laundromats website and to the "Contact" page. Send me an email letting me know if you have books to donate or if you'd like to help refill the libraries.