Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cards and glitter

I found a new group on facebook today. It's for people with illnesses that want to swap goodies with others around the world. Awesome, right? I've participated in a couple around Christmas, but this group doesn't have a holiday requirement. I offered to make cards for anyone that wanted one, and I said that I didn't expect anything in return.

I love making cards. I love scrapbooking. I love crafting in general. But I haven't been doing it lately. Maybe I thought I had to have the office organized. Or I wanted the dining room organized. Then when my niece came to visit from college, I had planned to get the office rearranged so we could make cards. We used the living room floor instead, because, of course, I hadn't touched the office. I can't really be upset about it because it was my choice. Anyways, I didn't do it.

I realized that if I offered to make cards for other people, I would have to make them. And I need that push to do something more useful than watching the tv. At least I could do something productive for others while I was watching it. And I'm thinking that since Hubs and I have worked on the dining room to some extent, it's very possible that I could finish it so I can use the table for crafting. That will make me happy and I'll feel productive. Yay for productivity! I'm looking forward to making all these cards.

Original Post
I think I need to make some signs like this. I love the glitter one - and Hubs hates it. Usually it's because he ends up with enough glitter on him to look like a stripper.

And now that I have said that, it's time for more pictures about glitter! (and a few more about crafting.)

Found on pinterest

(Clicking on the picture should take you to the original site, unless I found it on pinterest. If I have the wrong photo credit and you know the correct one, let me know and I'll fix it!)

I just realized that this is my 200th post. I don't think it really means anything, but I thought I'd share it anyway.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Having a geek moment

I feel like the only thing I have to blog about lately is my current mental and physical status. And that doesn't seem like something anyone else in interested in. I'm even annoying myself because I can't find any other topic to write about. I don't have kids to write about, my zoo doesn't do anything especially interesting, and I don't do anything at home that warrants discussion.

Okay, except this - which I'm totally excited about.

Hyperbolic geometry. Yep, I'm a nerd, and I'm proud of it. I've always loved math. Well, except for algebra 1 in 9th grade. Hated my teacher, and hated that I couldn't understand what the heck she was trying to teach. Algebra 2 went better. And college algebra was the best because I had an AWESOME teacher. If he ever reads this, I know he'll know I'm talking about him :)

I ordered the book. A Field Guide to Hyperbolic Space: An Exploration of the Intersection of Higher Geometry and Feminine Handicraft by Margaret Wertheim (check out the website, Institute for Figuring). Sounds very nerdy, right? When I was younger, someone taught me how to crochet. I'll admit, I wasn't that great at it. I'm a whiz at making chains, and I can sorta make round objects, like coasters and rugs. But I have no idea how to make anything remotely useful. And in all honesty, learning how to crochet a coral doesn't really sound all that helpful either. BUT... knowing that I can make a physical representation of something mathematicians couldn't figure out until just a few decades ago is awesome. What if I turn out to be the next Pythagoras? (granted, he has to do with Euclidian geometry, but you get my point.) I know I'm not a genius, although some of my friends might lean towards disagreeing with that. I'm just excited to try and make something new. Something I can be proud of.

On a completely separate note - I'm also learning a completely new way of software programming, called test-driven development. It's pretty nifty, and useful with systems like ours. It's likely to be boring to anyone that isn't in a software related field, but you should check it out if you know what I'm talking about :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Weekend of Change

I have come to the decision that I need to start taking all of the supplements I was taking previously, before my decent back into the black hole called depression. I'm on enough prescriptions to keep me from jumping back into that hole, but they aren't helping me climb back up the mountain. I'm just sitting on the edge.

I stopped taking a lot of them for no reason. That was stupid. I remember being energetic, excited to cook, loving exercise. I need to get back to that. I've still got all the supplements, so I'm going to be bagging a lot this weekend. When I was on them last, I found it a lot easier to take them when they were already pre-bagged and labeled with the times I needed to take them.

My plan is to start taking these again:
N-Acetyl Cysteine
B6 & B12
High DHA fish oil

There might be more, but I'll have to check my box first. Yes, I have a box labeled 'Unopened Pills'. And it's a big box. I think I'll have to go buy more bags, because my last ones disappeared.

I'm also going to be filling out some short workbooks I found online in regards to personal development. (As well as completing more tasks on Happify.com) I like doing these because they ask questions I wouldn't think to ask myself. I learn things that I might not realize in the beginning. I use these to help me find aspects of my life that are better or worse than I thought they are - it's important to me to understand myself so I can better choose my motivations. I know that I'm a sucker for immediate change, and that doesn't exist when it comes to happiness. So I'm hoping that some of these questions and workbooks will help me understand why I give up if I can't have something immediately. I pulled them from a couple of different websites:

DawnBarclay.com (99 Personal Development Questions, Balance Wheel, Core Values)
MindTools.com (Design Your Life)
InspiredLifeDesign.com (Give Wings to Your Dreams)
DanielleLaporte.com (Workbook O' Fire)

I want to understand myself. Isn't that something everyone should want? I recently read an article that said happiness peaks at two ages, 23 and 69 (Article here). Well, at least in Germany. I've passed age 23. I was happy at the beginning of 23, but not at the end. It was probably my fault, as I know that there's no one to blame for my happiness other than myself - unless I'm in prison or something, where happiness isn't necessarily easily cultivated.

What steps are you taking to be happy? Are there parts of your life that bother you? Parts that you want to change?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Where am I going with my life?

Sometimes, when Hubs isn't in the room, I watch TEDTalks. He thinks most of them are boring, whereas I'm just frikkin' amazed at some of the things I learn. Each talk is less than 20 minutes a piece. 20 minutes could change your life. Seriously. I watched one about crocheting a coral reef and it's ability to model a previously un-modelable type of math - hyperbolic math. I was floored. And immediately interested in going back to school to focus on hyperbolic math.

If you haven't seen any, you are totally missing out on life-changing ideas. Last night I watched a talk from Larry Smith in 2011. His topic was 'Why you will fail to have a great career'. Have you watched it? You need to. Here. You can watch it now :)

What are you giving up? What has stopped you from pursuing your PASSION? I thought it might be important to check out passion in the dictionary. (I recently learned that some of the words we use don't mean what we think they mean. 10 words that you've probably been misusing. and there are more.)

pas·sion [pash-uhn] noun
1. any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
2. strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardor.
6. a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything: a passion for music.
(I skipped 3,4, and 5 because they were strictly sexual. I'm not advocating that your sex life needs more passion. Unless you think it does. But that's besides the point.)

What am I passionate about? I don't know. So I googled 'How to find your passion'. At least this time it didn't tell me I'm pregnant, it's usual answer to my questions. After reading dozens of pages suggesting to take tests, THINK hard about what makes you happy, I found this: The secret to finding your passion. We're failing in our search for our passion because we are thinking too hard about it. we can't THINK about it. We have to FEEL it. And we can't FEEL anything until we DO something. It was a complete 180 from what I've been taught, read, or tried in the past. But that's me. I'm a THINKer. Always have been. I'm not so much a DOer. That's likely the underlying problem of all my problems. I don't actually DO anything, I just THINK and PLAN and HOPE that things will work out, or change, or whatever. But if I never actually DO anything, nothing is going to change.

The point is: Will I tell my children in the future that I didn't find my passion because I was too worried about being what someone else wanted me to be? Do I tell them that finding their passion is not as important as going to school, getting a decent job, and raising a family? If I don't pursue my dreams, how can I ever honestly tell my children to pursue theirs? "Honey, don't do what I did. I decided that I wanted to have kids instead of figuring out what I'm passionate about. Don't make the same mistake as me!" That's really going to make my future children happy.

But how am I going to change? What do I have to DO to find something I FEEL amazing about? I'm just going to start DOing. I'm not going to restrict myself to choices other people think I should make. I'm going to go out and DO something I've never done, and I'm going to keep doing it until I FEEL something. It could be volunteering. Underwater basket weaving. Travelling. Scrapbooking. Lion taming. Guiding tours. Who the hell knows. I'll know. When I find it, I'll FEEL it.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Give a little and save a life

I've always been the type of person that would donate to anyone that needed help. I also donate to charity groups. Every once in a while I volunteer. But I don't always talk about it. I don't want to seem stuck-up or better than everyone just because I'm a closet philanthropist. Ok, that's an exaggeration. I don't have enough money to be a philanthropist lol.

Photo from ThinkStock
For a long while, when I was out of work, I couldn't donate. Every time I'd get something from Texas Children's Hospital, March of Dimes (the itty bitty baby committee), St Jude, asking for another donation, I'd cry. I realize that most, if not all, of my donations probably went to funding more donation requests, but it's the thought that counts in my book. When I finally was working enough that I had some extra money to share, I began donating again. My list of charities is long, and my donations are small, but I'm still donating.

Hubs and I are just so passionate about so many groups that instead of choosing one or two and donating a decent chunk, we donate a little bit to a lot of groups. As I'm writing this I'm wondering why I never talk about this, and I'm glad I am now, even if there's an ulterior motive....

Groups we have donated to in the past:

But the whole point of writing this is to talk specifically about one group. In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Educational Center. They rescue neglected, abused and unwanted exotic felines, such as tigers, lions, leopards, etc. It's open to the public on the weekends. I visited once, many years ago, when I was still married to my first husband. I took my stepson, Mikey, who was only 3 at the time. There's a beautiful leopard named Jett that thought Mikey looked like a great meal. Of course, Mikey had no idea that's why Jett was following him back and forth along the fence. He was just fascinated by being so close to an animal bigger than him.
Jett - Leopard at In-Sync Exotics
Unfortunately for big cats, they are susceptible to both feline and some canine illnesses. In particular, canine distemper. There has been an outbreak of canine distemper at the rescue center, and it is dangerous to give vaccines designed for dogs because it is a live vaccine. It can cause serious problems in big cats. They have been using a ferret vaccine because it is not as live, but it isn't approved for use in big cats, and they aren't sure if it will provide any protection to those that are not sick. They have already lost two cats this week. Running a rescue of this size is difficult enough, adding a major illness is a heavy burden. I ask you this - can you afford to spare anything for this group? I donated $50 today - I know it's not much, but it's better than nothing. Maybe you know a hunter that has an overstuffed freezer of meat and can spare some for the cats. Or you can donate towels and blankets. There is a list of things they need on their website and facebook pages.

If you want to donate via credit card, here's the link: Donate Here

Check out their photo gallery, and see pictures of the cats you would be helping.

Maybe you want something in return for your donation? There's a bake sale in Dallas on Thursday, July 18 from 10-3pm at the Premier Place Building 1st Floor Lobby: 5910 North Central Expressway (75), Dallas TX, 75206. All the proceeds will go to In-Sync.

Photo from http://simplefactsplainarguments.blogspot.com
In the end, it's up to you to help or not. I won't know if you do. But knowing that you are reading this makes me feel like I'm helping :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Produce from a grocery store? That's so 20th century...

I've been looking into joining a local CSA (Community Sourced Agriculture) for a few years now. Joining one means that I'll get local, fresh produce every other week for a year. It'll help support local farms, and it'll mean less trips to the grocery store. But my main reason for joining one is to learn about seasonal produce, and force myself to try vegetables that I have never tried. Obviously if the box is full of onions, all of my friends and family will be receiving onions throughout the year.

I got an email from a local organic gardening group I'm in, discussing a CSA that has big dreams of becoming a large farm in the heart of the metroplex - so very cool. Although I disagree with it's location and will probably never visit the store, I was still very excited to hear about it. I checked out their website - http://urbanacresmarket.com/

They have more options than another CSA I've been looking into, the start-up cost is lower, and the box prices are cheaper. I was half tempted to sign up right then, but I resisted, mainly because I wasn't going to be in town on the first pick-up date. (When I have money, I tend to spend it.) There was a Groupon link in the website, so I looked for a groupon. The ones that came up in a google search were expired, so I thought I'd put this whole idea on the back burner until we got home from vacation. I got on Groupon to see what other goodies I could find for Hubs and I - now that I'm getting back to normal, I want to get out and do things again, but I'm still cheap :)

And what was the first Groupon on the list? $39 Groupon to cover the $64 in start-up costs and the first $17 mini share from Urban Acres.


That's right, I bought it. This is a step in the right direction for my health. As I get back to normal, I am beginning to focus on my health again. Instead of trying to do everything at once, I'm easing into it this time. So, yay me!

No matter where you live, I encourage you to check your area for a CSA. Straight from the farm produce, in my opinion, tastes so much better than the uniform-looking produce at the grocery store. Or maybe you can grow your own vegetables.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A long-awaited vacation

Around Christmas last year, I got an email that said 'Come Chill Off the Grid'. It was from Marlboro. I signed up for a membership with Marlboro as soon as I turned 21, so I could get coupons. I get nifty things like sunglasses, pocket ashtrays, bottle openers, etc. Anyways, when I first saw the email, I almost trashed it. Something told me that I needed to read it first. It said I had won a trip, and had a phone number and an RSVP code. I almost thought it was a joke, but I figured, what the heck. I'll call it and see if it's legit. I've received offers in the mail about free trips, and they've always expected me to buy something, so I refused. During our brief conversation, I was able to deduce that it was real - I won a 4 day, 3 night trip for myself and a guest (Hubs, of course!) to the Marlboro Ranch in Montana.

I rarely win anything awesome like this, so I was completely shocked. The most expensive thing I've ever won was tickets to Cirque Du Soleil. I'm glad I won those because Hubs had never seen Cirque, and I feel bad for anyone else who hasn't.

As for the trip I won - we got to select different activities we wanted to participate in. We received all of our travel info today, plane tickets and such. One of the activities we chose is a scenic horseback ride. I haven't been on a horse since I was 5. I love horses, and want to have one of my own when we get a farm. That's still a long time away, so I Wasn't going to pass up this opportunity. While the horseback riding is exciting, I'm telling this story for another reason.

The last time I was on a horse was in Utah. My grandparents lived there and had lots of friends. Somewhere there's a pic of me on a horse. When we got our plane tickets today, I was reminded of just how small the world is. We have a layover in Utah.

When I'm packing for our trip, I'll be packing lots of extra batteries for my camera. No doubt I'll have some beautiful pictures to come home with. We're really looking forward to this vacation!

Monday, July 8, 2013

A sick furbaby will kill your weekend plans.

This past weekend was, well, somewhat frightening. Saturday morning we woke up to find that half of Spike's face was swollen. As usual, Google scared the crap out of me so I started calling vets. I was worried because I have no extra money to visit a vet. Everywhere I called, I got the same response - we only take CareCredit, a credit card which I knew from previous experience, I didn't qualify for. So I called Dad. His dog is always sick (she's allergic to grass. Can you believe that?), so I figured he could help.

We determined 2 things - 1) Spike got bit on the nose by a bug. 2) There was something in our food that did not agree with him.

We cancelled all our plans for the weekend. To deal with the swelling, we got childrens benadryl and gave him really low doses all day Saturday. In the evening, when we figured out the food issue, we stopped giving him bites of our food. Of course he got to spend all day on the couch in my lap, while I cried off and on, worrying about what would happen in the next few days. Instead of sleeping in his kennel Sat night, he got to sleep with us. I wanted to make sure that if something was wrong, I'd know. Apparently he likes the floor better than our bed, because he can see out the window. Sunday, the swelling was gone, but he was still mopey. He spent all day on the couch with me, but was happy to go outside with Hubs. He slept with us again last night, just in case.

This morning I awoke to a very happy, bouncy, back-to-normal Spike, which relieved my fear that I could lose him. I've lost a dog before, and didn't want to go through it again. I'm so thankful I didn't have to. I was happy to give up my weekend to make sure spike got all the care he needed. If people do it for their human children, I see no reason why I can't do it for my furchild!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A new life change in the works

I made a rather rash, but very satisfying decision yesterday. I've been considering going back to school to get another degree. I don't need another one, but I want one. I love my job. I love the field I work in. But I also love math. I don't get to use a lot of that at my current job. I used to get college mathematics textbooks and answer the questions, just because I could.

I know going to school while working full-time might be a little difficult, but I can make it work, because I want to. I know I can do it.

I don't know what I will do after I get this degree. Since I'll be going to my local community college, I'll graduate with an Associate of Science. From there I might move on to a 4 year school to get another Bachelors. Maybe I'll tutor. Maybe I'll come up with something really cool, like developing a program to teach kids that don't have the ability to go to school. Maybe I'll start my own magnet school for kids that know they want to get into tech fields (which has been on my mind for a few years now).

I know that whatever I decided to do will prove to be a rewarding experience. I'm changing my life a little at a time, learning to put myself in new situations. I'm going to be the best me I can be. And I can't wait to get started.

Friday, July 5, 2013

That 3 pound thing in my skull...

I've always loved reading. My dad parents taught me how to read before I hit Kindergarten. My 2nd grade teacher told my parents that I was reading on a 6th grade level. No wonder I always hated it when we would take turns reading. I was the only one in the class that would get through my section without stumbling over the words.

When I was in middle school and we had to start writing book reports, I always had to beg my teacher to let me choose a book from home instead of from the school library because none of them were ever interesting enough for me. I've done reports in 7th grade on Tom Clancy books. Eventually my teacher just gave up and let me do whatever I wanted to do.

My first Dean Koontz book was Sole Survivor. I loved it. Then I bought False Memory. I was hooked. I will continue to purchase Koontz books until I have a copy of every single one he has written. I currently have roughly 50 books of his, and most have been read. Thankfully I always seem to find him on the clearance rack at Half Price Books. I've reached a point where I have to take a list of the books I already own with me, because I've managed to acquire 7 duplicate copies of books I already have.

So I was lying in bed last night, reading Night Chills. Hubs is always amazed at how fast I read. I can go through a book in a few days - which is why I'm always having to buy more :) He asked me how I could get through them so fast. I joked that I used more brain power than he does. He laughed and said 'Of course you do. You're a woman. It's scientifically proven that women use more of their brains than men.' Sometimes I think that men use just as much brain power as women, but it's not the brain in their skulls lol.

He asked me what I would do if I could use 100% of my brain power. It's not something I've ever really thought about before, but the answer came to me quickly. I'd learn new languages, both computer and spoken. I'd solve the mysteries of the universe, prove or disprove string theory. I'd become a medical researcher and find cures to a lot of diseases. I'd find newer, cheaper ways to become eco-friendly. I'd take down companies like Monsanto, so we were no longer subjected to genetically modified foods.

I liked my answer, and I'd love to hear yours. What would you do if you could use 100% of your brain power?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Power words

One of my Happify activities for the week is to determine my power word. Well, what is a power word? I know what a power word is when updating my resume, but that's not what the activity is about. A personal power word is a single word or short phrase that is used to inspire yourself when times are rough, things aren't going the way you want them to, you feel like a failure, you feel like giving up. I've dealt with a lot of those feelings, as I'm sure most other people have. It's a fact of life - life isn't fair, and it certainly isn't perfect.

I think a power word should tug at your heartstrings, feel like little piece of bliss, make you smile, and give you a boost of confidence. I don't think it's something you can just come up with one day. It's a word that resonates with you every time something doesn't go your way. It's a word that some people will tattoo on themselves as a constant reminder. I've seen tattoos of 'believe', 'hope', 'love', etc.

So what's my word? I don't know. I know it's not any of the usual ones chosen by the rest of the world. But I can come up with some words that could potentially be my power word later on in life.

Authentic - Just be myself. No one can take that away from me, and I shouldn't take it away from myself.
Clarity - See things as they are, not as I expect or hope them to be.
Fight - Don't let anyone take away what I believe in. Don't let stupid crap take away from my personal desires. Don't give in when my health tries to break me.

This topic is going to be in my head for a while, as I determine how I want to live my life.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July Goals

Holy crap it's July. June went by way too fast, and ended with very little success in the goal department.

June's Goals:
- Exercise at least twice a week - Nope
- No more donuts!!! If I can cut out coffee and soda, I can cut out donuts. - I switched from donuts to apple fritters. I don't count this as success lol
- Shop for produce at farmer's market at least once - Nope. 
- Organize the office so I can have a craft day with my niece - We used the living room floor instead.
- Have dinner at the dining table at least 3 times a week - Nope. Still can't even see my dining table.
- Buy a yoga membership and USE IT. I figure that if I buy it, I'll feel obligated to use it. - Didn't buy it.
- Volunteer to make sandwiches for the homeless! - Nope. 

I completely bombed June's goals. But that's ok. I'm just going to start over.

July Goals:
- Stop eating apple fritters.
- Participate in the Soul Cysters Weight Loss Challenge fitness programs at least twice a week
- Enjoy my vacation
- Hang a wall shelf in the dining room so I can get rid of a bookshelf.
- Reorganize all of my books into one bookcase instead of 3. - DONE! Hubs helped me do this last week :)
- Get back to eating gluten free

I've already started working on some of my goals, so I'm certain I can complete them this month. What are your goals for the month?

Monthly Goals