North! Or Be Eaten

September 24, 2009

So, I just had a lovely 10 day vacation – spent in Paris with my mother and sister.  10 days with NO work, NO work emails, NO phone calls.  Just reading, relaxing, touring around Paris, walking for miles and miles, having a free massage on the street… (that story will wait for another time).  Basically..10 glorious days of doing lots of new things.

While I was away, Andrew Peterson (my FAVORITE Christian singer/songwriter) released his newest book, “North! Or Be Eaten.”  I was given the opportunity to read the book and was supposed to blog about it while I was away…but since the French keyboard is completely different than a US keyboard, I decided that typing “dsajewajksal ashlks wqqklask” wouldn’t really explain the book or entice you to read it. 🙂 So, I decided to wait until I got back to review it.

As I said, Andrew Peterson is my absolute FAVORITE singer/songwriter.  His songs are beautiful, the lyrics poignant, and the melodies get into my head and swirl around all day.  So, when asked to read his book, I was super excited.  The book sounded like it was going to be “Harry Potter-esque” with lots of adventure, wonderfully magical characters, evildoers, humor, and make believe lands full of creatures, flowers, and beauty.

Well, all of those things did exist in this book, but to be completely honest, it took a while for the book to pick up steam and get to a place where I could follow the story.  There were so many names of creatures, lands, people, and things that it was hard to keep them straight and follow the story.  A few less made up creatures would have made the story much easier to follow.  I was ready to give up about 60 pages in..but I had committed to Andrew Peterson and his publishers that I would read the book.  Lying about reading a book written by a CHRISTIAN singer seemed to be a bad idea. 🙂 I didn’t want to tempt fate.

So, I plodded through, and eventually got to a place where I was excited to read about the throne warden, the sea dragons, the ice prairies and to find out what would happen to Leeli, Tink, and Janner – the Lost Jewels of Anniera.  After I got through the first 100 pages, I quickly read the rest and enjoyed it. 

If you have preteen children who like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or other books in this genre, then I would encourage you to let them read it.  If you have younger children who want to read the book, I would encourage you to read it with/to them.  Also, this is the second book in the series, so please read the first book first.  I didn’t read the first book, which may explain my confusion at first.

If you haven’t heard Andrew Peterson’s music, I encourage you to go out immediately and get one of his CDs, especially “Carried Along” or “The Resurrection Letters, Volume II.”  You won’t regret it.  As for “North! Or Be Eaten,”  I wish I could recommend it as strongly, but cannot.  If you have read it and disagree, I would welcome your thoughts here.


Consistency – not my strong suit

August 31, 2009

Every night I get online and check emails – both personal and work-related – and think, “After I finish this next email I am going to write on my blog.”  Well, as you can see by my lack of attention to the blog lately – I had the best intentions, but not the follow through that I have for other tasks. 

Here is where I go into my myriad of excuses – I spend nine hours a day in front of a computer at work; I come home and am tired and need to catch up on my DVRed TV shows; I have to work at my other job and plan this weekend’s youth event; I have laundry and dishes and cleaning to do; and finally…the dog ate my blog.  OK…that last excuse would only be used if you didn’t accept any of the others. 🙂

But, I do often think about writing here.  I have so many things that I am thinking about each day.  So many questions I have.  And I think, what if I posted that into the blogosphere for others to read? Would they write the answers I am seeking? Would they have the same feelings I am feeling about life experiences? Or, would they just ignore what I have to say and move on to check their Facebook, emails, or other more interesting and more frequently updated blogs? 

I often think I have things to say – important, earth shattering things to say, but what I “do” – 2-3 jobs, planning events, visiting family and friends – those things are my priority.  This blog is not.  I don’t want to get rid of this blog just yet.  I am going to give it one more try. But I don’t want to do it at the expense of the rest of what I do.  

And, saying I am going to give this another try is easier when I say it a week before I head to Paris for 10 days. Maybe that is why I am ready for a fresh start.  I know that on the horizon is a 10-day adventure with no phones, no emails, no Facebook, no communication unless it is with my mother and sister or my soon-t0-be French “amis.” 🙂

The thought of 10 days without modern communication with my friends, family, coworkers, Facebook friends, and “Tweeps” – well, it kind of makes me nauseous.  I have never been “unplugged” for that many days.  Can I do it? Can I enjoy my vacation without wondering what I am missing?  I sure hope so.  This is my chance to prove to myself that I can go away and “forget” about everything but relaxing and living in the moment.  I am going to do all I can to embrace this opportunity. 

Au revoir mes amis.  I will “see” you back here after my great Paris adventure.  Bon soir!  A bientot!!


Vacation – cleaning, procrastinating, and an unexpected surprise!

July 23, 2009

So, I had such big plans for blogging this week.  I had the entire week off and I thought I could blog every day.  You know what they say about “the best laid plans.” 

Here it is…Thursday afternoon…and I haven’t blogged at all until now.  What got in my way of posting?  Was it a trip to the beach? Social engagements with friends?  An emergency work project that just couldn’t be done without me?

Um…none of the above.

What did get in my way was too much free time.  When I get free time, I can’t seem to organize my schedule so that I can get all the things done I want to do when I have those “free minutes.”

I am happy to report that vacation did give me time to clean my apartment (Hallelujah!) so that it is cleaner than it has been in ages.  I also had a chance to have lunch with some old high school friends, followed by dinner with some other friends.  I got to spend some time reading.  I also wasted a lot of time doing nothing.

I know we all need down time, but I realized that unless I am overly scheduled, I can waste a lot of extra time.  Why is that?  I feel like this week flew by, and I didn’t get my youth council retreat planned.  I didn’t get my book finished.  I didn’t get out to take photographs.  And I didn’t get a chance to read my Paris travel book to figure out where I want to visit when I arrive in just a few weeks.

Oh well…what I did get was extra sleep, time with friends, a clean apartment, and a week of mostly good weather.  So, while I didn’t do what I expected to do….I can’t complain. 

And here is my “six degrees of Beth D” story this week:

I went to dinner on Tuesday night with two high school friends.  We went to the Great Impasta in Brunswick.  If you haven’t been need to go.  The garlic knots are amazing! Anyway…

We had to wait outside because the line was long, but we didn’t mind.  People kept leaving the restaurant saying, “It’s worth the wait.”  Well, as one lovely older couple came out and said that, the couple in front of us in line said they were “from away” and had never been there.  So, my friend said that he had worked there 20 years ago and had grown up “across the river” (in Topsham).  The wife in the couple said, “Did any of you go to Cone School?”  I was the only one of the three of us who had, and so I told them that I did.  The husband said he was 42, so I said he was a little older than me…which led me to think I wouldn’t remember him.  Then he said that his sister was my age, but that they had moved away from Topsham in 1981, while I was in the 4th grade.  I smiled, assuming I wouldn’t remember his sister, but went along and nodded like I would of course know his sister.  Well…when he said her name, I nearly fell over.  Not only did I know here name. Michelle S____, …but they had lived right down the street from me!  His sister was the only girl on the street besides my sister and me.  And while my sister was content playing kickball, football, and basketball with the boys in the neighborhood, I often wanted to find someone to play Barbies or house or school with. 

Michelle lived about six houses away and we spent lots of time together – and I often wondered what had happened to her.  How crazy is that?  I now know what she is up to, AND I got to visit with dear friends and eat garlic knots. 

I guess vacation wasn’t a total loss afterall! 🙂

My Day: Hunger and Harry Potter

July 15, 2009

I LOVE Harry Potter.  I love the books.  I love the movies.  I take the afternoon off each time a new movie comes out so that I can go and enjoy a matinee.

Today was no different.  I had my tickets, I had my boss approve my vacation time, and I was ready.  But hit me.  Is it possible, or even LEGAL, to go to a movie and not eat popcorn??  Popcorn is NOT on my new midsummer blitz eating plan.  I was excited about Harry Potter…but Harry Potter without popcorn didn’t sound nearly as magical!

So, I went to Shaw’s on my way to work to make a salad for lunch.  And then I headed down the aisle to the rice cakes.  Rice cakes.  Those words don’t usually elicit a smile or jump for joy from me (or from anyone…I would imagine), but I thought I should have some on hand to combat my desire to visit the dish-that-shall-not-be named (i.e., the chocolate bowl) in my coworker’s office.

Well…I got to the rice cake aisle and started reading labels to find one with low sugar and low carbs.  And what did I find?  I found buttery popped corn flavored rice cakes! Yahoo! 

So, I put a few rice cakes discretely in my purse, bought my $4.25 bottled water (THAT should be a crime to charge that kind of price for a 20-ounce bottled water), and did manage to sit through the movie without grabbing my friend’s soda and popcorn out of his hands. 

And I am happy to say that the new Harry Potter movie was quite enjoyable – funny at times, sad at others, and great special effects.  I love everything Harry Potter…so even though it wasn’t my favorite of the six movies thus far, I really enjoyed being transported to Hogwarts for a few hours on a workday afternoon.

The only thing that would make me love Harry Potter more is if he could come up with a spell to make rice cakes taste like chocolate cake!  Maybe that happens in movie 7?

Have a magical evening!

Where there’s a will…

July 14, 2009

So, I am still trying to figure out the focus of this blog of mine.  I was talking with my friend J___ today and she suggested that I blog about this new “eating plan” (“diet” is a four-letter word, so I shall not use it to describe what I am doing) that I started yesterday.  I think that at least once a day I should write about how I am doing – to maybe help someone else who is struggling like I am, and also to hold myself accountable for my actions.

I found this quote online today:  

Lack of will power has caused more failure than lack of intelligence or ability. – Flower A. Newhouse

I think this describes my battle with food.  I am an intelligent person.  I am a capable person.  But my will power is not one of my better qualities.  I know that I need to eat healthier for a variety of reasons, but yesterday I started a new plan, that my friend S______ (a dear friend and my “personal trainer” since the beginning of the  year) wrote up for me.

I talked to S____ last night and said that I started off the day well yesterday, but that I had fully expected (due to past experience) to fail yet again by lunchtime yesterday. Afterall, I have a coworker who has a “candy bowl” in her office that I visit regularly throughout the workday.  This coworker is on vacation this week – so the candy bowl would be unattended, and I wouldn’t even have the guilt that I usually do when going into her office – feeling like I visit the bowl more often than others at work.  But, I DID IT!

I made it all through the day yesterday and was doing well this morning too.  I got up early, had my breakfast according to the plan, headed to the gym for a great workout, and then put my lunchbag in the fridge at the office…waiting for lunchtime to arrive.  Then I started not feeling well, so I decided to head home to get some work done without infecting the office.  But…could I work at home and not eat everything in the house?

I am happy to report, at the official end of the work day, that I have successfully stuck to the plan all day today as well! Hurray for me!  I would be hard-pressed to be more excited if I won the lottery.  Two days of eating no sugar, drinking no soda, and having no fast food breakfast sandwich on my way to work?  I hope the people at Burger King don’t think I have died when I don’t show up there anymore after at least a year of nearly daily visits.

Why have I stuck to this so far?  (Now I realize some of you probably think, “This woman has only done this for two days…she shouldn’t consider this a ‘success’ until she has done it for longer.”  What you need to realize is – I never expected to make it through lunch on day one.  So..making it through two days is beyond a success.) I have stuck to this so far because in just one day I have noticed:

  • My left foot, which usually swells horribly in the summer (and year round) – to the point that I have trouble wearing shoes – is NOT very swollen (after just one day on this new plan), even after sitting at my desk all day.
  • I don’t have the caffeine withdrawal headache that I expected.  Two days with no soda should earn me a medal!
  • I realized that by not driving through for a fast food breakfast each morning during the week saves me $4 a day, which is $20 a week, which is $80 a month, which is $960 a year!!!!  Not to mention the money I am saving by not going out to lunch during the week too.  I can easily save $1000 a year – AND lose weight, feel healthier, wear cute shoes, and feel successful.  Why WOULDN’T I stay on this plan?

I feel like there will be struggles, and I will share those with you here as well.  But for now…I am celebrating my victory.  I am celebrating my life.  I am celebrating my will power (which I thought I had lost long ago).  And I am celebrating my friendship with S______.  She is sensitive to my struggle, helpful when I have questions, and supportive as I take this journey to better health.  It won’t convince me to buy her things like she is hoping it will…but it does make me really glad we stayed friends all these years, even though she did make me move her furniture while wearing a dress years ago!  That is a story for another time!

Be well!

To end the evening on a lighter note

July 10, 2009

My friend and coworker sent me this quote, and it made me laugh. So, I thought I would share.  I dare you to read it and not at least crack a smile:

When you feel nobody loves you…
Nobody cares…
And that everyone is ignoring you…
You should ask yourself…
“Am I too sexy?”

🙂  Sleep well!

Facebook status of the week

July 10, 2009

This week on Facebook, a lot of people posted their status as: if you read this, even if we don’t speak often, post a comment with a memory of you and me. It can be anything you want… When you’ve finished, post this paragraph on your own status and you’ll be surprised at what people remember about you.

Well, the answers that some of my friends posted were the same memories I would have posted on their pages.  But some were complete surprises – in a good way…reminding me of times years ago that I had forgotten completely…well, not completely.  You can ask any of my classmates who were at my 20th reunion – I remember A  LOT (sometimes that’s good…and other times..not so great).  My sister made me laugh hysterically – and others reminded me of how many years it has been since we spent time together to make more memories.

I am someone who likes to reminisce – and with my 20th high school reunion having happened just weeks ago – it has made me that much more nostalgic.  I am surprised I am not spending this evening going through my “box of memories.”  I have saved almost every card, note, letter, scrap of paper, or picture that I have ever been given by people who mean a lot to me.  I have postcards, birthday cards, sympathy cards, crazy poems, and the note from the first boy to ever ask me out – you name it, I still have it. 

I watch all of the shows like “Clean Sweep” who say that you don’t have to have that “stuff” – that the sorts of mementos that I keep are just physical representation of the memory that I have in my head and my heart, but I just can’t bear to get rid of things like Christmas cards from former campers, funny birthday cards from my sister and my closest friends (all of them, especially my sister, seem to be able to find the “perfect” card!), letters from mentors of mine throughout the years, that “will you go out with me” note from math class, 25 years ago… and the list goes on and on.

I can’t seem to part with these things – but sometimes think I should.  I read them and spend a lot of time thinking back and wondering why I stopped being in touch with certain people, or why I didn’t work harder to maintain a friendship that at one time was very important to me, or why I didn’t tell someone how I was feeling when I had the chance. 

I don’t regret where I am in my life at age 38 – I just wonder “what if” I had taken the other fork in the road.  Would it have led me right back here, or am I missing out on something because I was too stubborn, afraid, or too busy paying attention to something else?