Monday, December 29, 2008

Something for Nothing? (Resolution Time)

When I was in Costa Rica during the summer of 2004 I discovered that its versions of Coke and Diet Coke were equally watery tasting, so in order to get my daily caffeine fix I made the switch to Diet Coke. When I returned to Georgia I continued drinking Diet Coke (spiked with grenadine at first), figuring it was as good a time as any to eliminate the empty calories I consumed from Coca-Cola and not contemplating what the cost might be--or even if there was one. Since then I've moved on to Diet Coke with Lime, Cherry Coca Cola Zero, Diet Dr. Pepper, and so on, and it's seemed like a win-win proposition. I still get my soda but consume no calories.

My sister received a book named Skinny Bitch for Christmas this year, and I ended up skimming it last week. While the book resorts to gratuitous and offensive profanity, it definitely gave me a lot to think about, including my consumption of aspartame, Splenda, and other artificial sweeteners. So I've been digging around some on the internet, and I've been pretty disturbed by what I've found--particularly about aspartame.

Granted it doesn't take a genius to realize that ingesting sodas and other items containing these sweeteners (which is in a LOT of foods/gum/etc.) isn't the ideal and most healthy choice, but I had no idea how many adverse reactions and health problems are associated with the consumption of these sweeteners. Several of the side effects are things I "suffer" from, and I can't help but wonder if they'd go away if I ceased consuming it. And while I've previously read enough to know that the Food and Drug Administration is often corrupt as a result of the strong influence of lobbyists and legislators who are influenced by donors/lobbyists/and others and thus doesn't always (or perhaps ever) have our best interests at heart, I guess I hadn't given much thought to how the FDA's lack of ethical regulation might be affecting me. I hate that we can't trust that something approved by the FDA is safe--whatever that means.

So as I prepare to make some resolutions for the new year, I think ditching soda for at least a month or two may top the list; it'll be a pain, particularly since I enjoy fountain soda (with lots of lemons) so much, but I figure a month will give me a chance to see if I feel better without it. And before you tell me it's stupid to make New Years' resolutions, note that I make resolutions mid-year, monthly, and any time I want. I like resolving and setting goals and try to live at least a semi-self-examined sort of life. And with regard to my diet, I'm disappointed with how thoroughly I've accepted the way our culture eats. I've just been too lazy and complacent to do very much about it. Maybe this will be a step in the right direction because for me it's all about baby steps.

p.s. I'm grateful for fun, low-key NYE plans. We're having a progressive sort of evening with appetizers at a nearby house, dessert in the loft down the hall from me, and drinks (and hopefully fireworks which we can see from my place) at my place. No dressing up, crowds, tickets to an event with cheap liquor, lines at a bar, and hopefully no drama.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Hope may cry, but if you need a reminder of the creative ways that we can love others check out this article about how a football team loved another team made up of inmates. Sometimes people just need to be reminded that they are somebody important.

HT: Prodigal Jon

Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas to Me

My firm had its Christmas dinner two weeks ago, and I was surprised (since I'm an independent contractor) and grateful to receive a generous bonus. After some thought I decided to use a little less than half of it to buy 12 sessions with a personal trainer. I've wanted to workout with a trainer for years but could never justify the splurge, so this bonus made me feel a little better about spending the money. Plus I'm not familiar with a lot of the machines in my new gym and want to learn, and since I returned to lawyer land I've gained about 7 pounds. I guess sitting on my butt all day in an office where people routinely bring in homemade cheesecake, pies, and whatnot is not conducive to healthy living. I've tried to make some changes and already do a lot of the practical things--like moving around a lot, taking the stairs, eating 5 times a day, and all of that--plus I work out consistently. So I figured it was time to switch things up, learn some new exercises, and have some push me harder than I push myself (and help keep me accountable with my eating choices which is my biggest struggle). I had my second session today, and it went well; although the trainer is going to have to step it up to really push me, which I think he realized. I think he's used to working out with people who don't already exercise fairly strenuously.

This isn't exactly the best time to be losing weight given all of the holiday goodies, but if I don't get a handle on this now I'm going to have to buy new clothes in another 5 pounds--which I refuse to do. I already can't cutely wear my favorite jeans :(

In related news, I love growing older. My life gets better with each year as I gain wisdom, understanding, patience, and understand/more fully accept Christ's love and grace. I feel like my life is much more joy-filled and drama-free. BUT I don't like this having to think about weight and eating and whatnot. Darn metabolism! I guess there are always tradeoffs....

In other news, Oliver and I had a "talk" on Saturday; I'll share the details later. I'll see him tomorrow for lunch before he flies home, so I'll let you know what I end up doing re: the gift. Thanks so much for all of your input. I love reading your thougths.

p.s. I'm grateful for a relaxed day. I decided not to work after all and enjoyed a leisurely lunch, stroll through some stores, and workout (I also made the mistake of going in the general vicinity of the mall and will NEVER put my shopping off to the week of Christmas again...miserable.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dating Advice Please

Ok to recap....Oliver and I have been friends since August, have been on a couple of dates, and usually chat during the week at least once or twice. We're definitely not in a relationship but moved beyond friendship right about Thanksgiving.

Last week our mutual friend asked me if I was getting him a gift. It hadn't even occured to me to do so, but once she mentioned it I start thinking about it. I wish he had a big sweet tooth, and I could just make something nice like Lib's tiramisu; but alas he's not into sweets. So....(1) Do you think I should get him a gift? I think it'd be awkward to give him a gift if he's not gotten one for me. So I'm tempted to get something, and then if he gives me a gift then I'll give it to him. That may seem sort of weird, but I think it's important for a girl to not act more interested in a guy than vice versa (which is one of the reasons I don't ask guys out usually).

(2) If I get him something, what should it be? He's really into music, but he also has more than 5,000 songs, so I can't exactly go get a CD for him and avoid duplicating what he already has. He downloads illegally, which I've teased him about, so I could get him an itunes card. I sort of think that seems impersonal though. But a shirt or scarf or something like that seems generic and aren't things I could get excited about. He loves books and reading, but we've both talked about how our to-be-read stack of books is out of control. And he already has a mullet I'm fresh out of ideas. So share yours!

Oh, one thought....he has a quote from Walden on his Facebook wall, but he's never read Walden (which is one of my favorite books). So despite his stack of books to be read, I wonder if that might be a good idea, especially since we've been trading back Dead Poet's Society quotes for the last few weeks.

p.s. I'm grateful for the fact that I'm only working two days next week and get to hang out with my family in a really relaxed way.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sneaky Skinny Jeans and Whatnot

So to follow-up on this post I ended up wearing heels, black pants, a slightly sparkly gray tank, and a black long sleeve top that tied in front. I found a really fun cocktail dress, but I was cold wearing jeans, three layers on top, and boots indoors on Saturday; so I knew a dress would have distracted me from a good time. And I would have been way more dressed up than my friends, and unlike some of you who commented, I do not like being overdressed. In fact, I'd generally rather be underdressed than over--at least in social situations (professional matters are different). I think that may be an issue of pride--not wanting to look like I am trying too hard, and of course, wanting to be as comfortable and warm as possible. Oh, check out my friend's three piece corduroy suit from Goodwill. He actually wore it to work one day.

And here's my latest e-mail exchange with my dear friend Chasie who watched and advised during my fashion show of the clothes I bought/might keep on Saturday afternoon:

I wrote: Ok, so you know the skinny jeans that are thinly disguised as "barely bootcut" jeans? Another downside: if you're at someone's house and take off your boots (or at home with a cute boy and take off your shoes), you then look like a fat cow!

Those skinny jeans can't sneak one by me!

Love you,

Chasie replied:

Haha. I'm literally LOLing. You are hilarious. And I imagine you are absolutely correct that they don't work as well without the boots. But I'm sure you don't look like a fat cow... absolutely sure.

I'm glad you're a lawyer and smarter than skinny jeans,


p.s. I'm grateful for friends who tell me I'm hot even if I do, in fact, look like a fat cow (or pear as the case may be) in sneaky skinny jeans.

If You Can? Seriously?

When I have a less than stellar week I can't help but think about how good my life is because even in a bad week there's just so much greatness--you guys and your helpful comments/links to help me dress myself (will post on that later), rest, "The Resolution" by Jack's Mannequin (which helped me run the fastest three miles on a treadmill I've run in at least 2 years), my lovely Christmas tree, a visit with Chasie, and a solid group of friends to just name a few.

I think the worst part of this last week was the letter I received from Humana, denying my request for health insurance. I had a physical two weeks ago as part of their application process, and the results from my urinalysis are abnormal. I've been told by friends who know more than me about this stuff that a retest would likely render normal results (as these results may be caused the by hard workout I had the night before that the company should have advised me not to do prior to testing--or just be a fluke since my levels don't indicate any clear medical problem). SO here I sit with no health insurance, and now I have to tell other insurance companies that I've been denied by another company for abnormal test results. This health insurance drama began back in August as I tried to wade through the ridiculousness of determining what policies exclude, hide, and otherwise say to confuse their potential insureds. Granted, I should have begun this process 2 months before my other insurance ended. And I should have been more aggressive about COBRA and so on and on. But darn, I'm in shape, have no health issues (other than these new lab results), and do not use tobacco and go to the doctor once a year for my annual appointment and take one prescription drug ($29)a month. ARGH!

So this week I did have health issues (but that would not cost a potential insurer a penny!)...I had a sore throat Sunday-Tuesday and then a weird stomach bug that began on Thursday and seems to be almost over. I'm paid by the hour (which is why I have this health insurance fiasco--but also have awesome flexibility), so I tried not to stress about the fact that I worked like 10 hours this week and just rested and slept a lot. And I'm grateful to be feeling much more normal now.

A bottle of salad dressing slid out of the refrigerator and burst all over the floor.
It took me 20 minutes to find my car at the mall yesterday, and it was 40 degrees and I had lots of bags and felt like I was losing what little bit of mind I had after two days of chewing Pepto Bismol tablets and sleeping.

I spent $800 on new tires on Thursday. That's a lot of money, but it only sort of sucks since it's the first time I've had to buy tires for this vehicle, and it's over 5 years old (80k miles is pretty great).

I haven't been able to focus all week. I've been watching or rather trying to watch Freedom Writers since Monday night; now I'm about half-way finished.

Sometimes I feel like life is way too complicated. Seriously how are we suppose to do all of this? I need to find health insurance, schedule bill payments, get groceries, cook, go to Bible study, call people back, do laundry, rest, journal, read, volunteer, sort through mail and tax stuff, finish this overdue research assignment, respond to work e-mails, submit my time, take clothes to Goodwill, get the hem fixed on those pants, take my dry cleaning, and so on and so on. Am I the only person who thinks moving to another, more simple country might be the answer? Argh, instead I think I'll just listen to "O Holy Night" one more time and gaze at my tree and journal and reflect on the scripture we studied this morning.
In the ninth chapter of Mark there's a boy who suffers from muteness and seizures. His father brought the boy to Jesus, explaining the ailment and saying to Jesus "'But if you can do do anything, have compassion on us us and help us.' And Jesus said to him, 'If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.' Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, "I believe; help my unbelief!"
So none of this "if" crap. I'm counting on God this week. If He can lead a sinner like me into walking with Him and rejoicing in His holiness, then He can surely help me with these feelings of being overwhelmed, unfocused, and wanting to just sleep until my to-do list does itself.

p.s. I'm grateful for the hours of laughter we shared last night. I cannot even explain how ridiculous Oliver, my neighbor, and I are when we get going, but it's just good. It's really good stuff.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Not a Girly-Girl

Sometimes I think life would be easier if I were a girly girl...or rather getting dressed would be easier. I have friends who daydream about outfit combinations, wear skirts in the middle of the winter, and wear shoes that are admittedly uncomfortable. I, on the other hand, wear pajamas whenever I can get away with it and just generally do poorly in this arena. friends and I are going to a party on Saturday night that is cocktail attire, although a friend said that last year some people had on jeans. If this party were in the summer or even the early fall, I'd wear a cocktail dress. But alas the party is this weekend, and predicts temperatures much too cold to wear a dress comfortably. I realize that I will be inside and that it may be warm enough, but I sincerely doubt it. I am the girl who wears heels to work and then puts on socks as soon as she sits in her chair. I am the girl who always wants a blanket and wears her wool coat around the office for the first hour after I arrive. So what do I wear? I'm hoping some of you girly girls can send me links and suggestions. I know I'll need accessories, and I've been working hard in this department.

Times like this are the only times I miss my old (crazy) roommate. She was so good at this stuff and could use our collective closets to put together fabulous outfits in no time. I don't have her gift, but I hope one of you does! And don't get me wrong...despite wanting to wear pjs all the time and not being good at this, I like feeling and looking cute; I'm just bad at it.

Happy Wednesday!

p.s. I'm grateful that my sore throat seems to be going away.