Sunday, May 2, 2021

Menopause and Me

 It's 1am and I am up after a few hours' sleep and a bad dream, waking up covered in sweat. 

Thoughts raced through my head about a school assignment that is due today (or tomorrow, however you want to look at it) that I didn't complete. That I didn't even start. That's for a class that is important to me – it's being guest taught by a former editor-in-chief of National Geographic and esteemed photojournalist, and obviously this is a person from whom I have a lot to learn from, and who has been so great so far. I can't even get my shit together for that. Also, I didn't get any financial aid this quarter and I think I have hit my limit, which means that I can't continue school anymore, probably not for a long while and that kind of makes me sad too.

I ended up talking to my partner, who was still up, and crying uncontrollably for a few minutes. I didn't feel good in any way. Not physically or mentally or emotionally. I'm so grateful for him in times like these. He suggested, "Menopause, right? Because this is not like you." And yes, oh yeah. I always forget that I am in it. Brain fog, loss of focus, pain all over my body. Feelings of hopelessness, etc. I looked it up: Menopause symptoms. What a joke! They still don't really shit about it. Here, check what the NIH has to say. Basically, they don't know. Maddening.

So here I am writing this instead of the paper I should be working on for tomorrow. It felt needed. 

How are things going, you ask? (Maybe you ask. I could be wrong about that.) Things are... going. I have... an awareness. I haven't logged food every day but wager a guess that I am probably eating within my target zone in general. I haven't started walking or yoga yet. I have been weaning myself off of regular soda, though. Onto fruit juices/drinks, onto sparkling water. Onto plain old water, which I love but I also love soda so it's not super easy. I'm trying to decide if it's the fizz I love so much or the sugar. Probably both. Anyway, I need a break from soda regardless so it's not forever, it's not a big deal.

I think I will get on the scale once or twice a week. I'm down a couple pounds today and will look again on Thursday. Not even making a huge effort gets some results.

I don't know, man. I just want to stop feeling so bad all the time.


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Day One-ish

 I guess technically today is Day One, ground zero. Right away, though, I totally forgot to step on the scale (just for reference, not for judgement) before breakfast. So I will do that tomorrow for sure. 

However, I took all my vitamins! This includes for now a one-a-day and some vitamin D, along with a couple supplements that my mother-in-law swears by for her hair and nails (pumpkin seed something and biotin, I think?). Day one, vitamins! That is an achievement.

I restarted my MyFitnessPal tracker to have a place to put my food. Right now I am just jotting down what I ate in general to see where I'm at, aiming to stick around 2500 calories or fewer. Of course I will continue to adjust these various data as I go. 

I haven't yet started walking. If I can squeeze in a bit between raindrops today I will. I will do at least one sun salutation.

It's a start.

I had some juice/juice-type drink with breakfast but drinking some water now. It tastes good! I have a few cans of soda left that I will drink in the coming days, but after that I won't be buying it for a while. 

Positive vibes. Moving forward.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

I Never Thought I'd See the Day

It's been a minute, as they say!

But I think I am back.

This time I am recycling some very old content, when I restarted back in 2014. I needed some guidance/inspo to get take steps again to take better of myself. I know it's not rocket science, but you know. It's not always easy to do the obvious stuff.

So anyway... I'm a less than a couple months away from 51 now, and I have been feeling it! Weight-wise I'm back in the 340s (will weigh in officially tomorrow), but since I last logged in I've also been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which has not been fun. The combo of that and the pandemic has made me into someone who finds it painful to walk down the driveway again. I sit around a LOT these days. 

There is so much to say! For now I'm just going to set my goals and intentions, and I'll be back to catch up more very soon. I still want to be the old lady who is out there climbing mountains...

From May 24th, 2014:

What I am doing and what I am not doing.

If you are reading this, thank you. If you are a friend or family member, especially if you see me in person, here are some things you should know as a supportive person.

• I am not on a diet. I am not restricting myself in the way that most people would think; however I am trying to align my eating habits based on information that is out there about our food supply, and on stuff that is common sense. I want to eat FOOD.

• I don't want to eat artificial stuff. I don't want to eat gross chemicals. I don't want artificially no-fat, low-fat, Aspartamed crap. I'm going to eat butter and sugar, but I am also going to eat whole grain as much as I can, and I'm going to try to eat whole foods period as much as I can (no, not the store). I'll be eating a lot of fruits and veggies, but am I going to stop eating pizza or cake? No.

• I'm reading the labels a lot more these days, but not just for calories and fat content.

• I am hoping to avoid having to take medications for things like high blood pressure and dia-beet-us. I want to stop feeling tired all the time.

• I will be checking in with my doctor on a more regular basis, and I will take his advice. (I have healthy insurance again after going without for a year!)

• I will continue to take my vitamins every day.

• I will drink lots and lots of water every day (and stop drinking soda most of the time).

• I will continue going to the gym regularly and build strength and endurance.

• I will continue working on being happy and being a good person.

• If I mess up, I will pick myself up and try again, and never stop trying.

Goals:

Weight
1. Reach 325 (random but whatever) 
2. Reach 300
3. Get below 300 in a sustained way
4. 250
5. 200
6 ???

I'm not interested in getting skinny, per se. I'm interested in feeling comfortable physically and being able to do anything I want to. The last time I was at 250, I felt that way. So we'll see how it goes.

Fitness
1. Walk for 20 minutes 
1a. Walk every day
2. Walk a 20-minute mile
3. Walk 2 miles comfortably
4. Walk 3.1 miles (5k) comfortably
5. Start Couch to 5K again, or a variation

... plus yoga!

I want to do ALL the things.

It's nice to be back.


How are you????

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Goal-setting for Team 2019, Part 1

It's that time of year, isn't it, when everyone makes resolutions to lose weight or quit smoking or start exercising, etc. etc. We all know by now that resolutions generally don't turn out well and that people burn out on their intentions before January is out.

That said, I still love to make a list at the end of the year of things that I would like to accomplish. I'm a list-lover in general, especially to-do lists! And I like the idea of challenging myself and seeing how far I can get with a new idea or something I've always wanted to do, or something that I've tried in the past but never quite achieved. Try, try again, right?

So I won't call these resolutions but rather just... intentions. Goals too, yes. Stuff I'd like to do. Stuff that the person I really want to be would get done. I may will add to this list in the coming days, but for now, here are things at the fore of my mind.

+ Read 36 books. In 2018 I set a rather lofty goal of 48 books for the Goodreads challenge. There are still a few days left in the year, but I'm not going to meet that. I'll probably end up with 34, which is still pretty good! I want to set a goal that I will meet this year, so 36 seems infinitely doable in comparison to how things went this year. I did have a couple reading dry spells so honestly 48 should not have been out of the question, but at three books a month, 36 sounds like a good compromise. I read all kinds of books -- novels, history, memoir, short story collections, how-tos (like crafty stuff), graphic novels -- of all different sizes, from the very long and lofty to the easy breezy.

+ Health and Fitness. As you probably know, I've stopped focusing on my weight and weight loss efforts in this blog, however because it's part of my life it will pop up now and again. Today seems like a good day for an update on that front.

I've been fretting about my weight mainly because of how uncomfortable I've become in the past year. Last I was talking about it I was hovering in the 330s after having lost a bit doing an experimental bout of Whole30 back in September. Since October or so, I stopped any sort of weight loss efforts or food logging or weighing or anything. I needed a mental break from all that crap. I hate diet talk and was feeling really hypocritical; plus I was just sick of thinking about it all the time (even though all that aside I still think about it all time, ugh). This morning I decided to hop on the scale for a reading, but left my socks on and already had the day's jewelry on (LOL! Yes, I really think these things matter). I was thinking that I was close to 350 based on how I feel, but was pleased (pleased!) to see that I clocked in just at 340.

This means two things: One, I am still at the lost over 30 pounds thing (I started at 372 back in late 2014) to count for the National Weight Loss Registry, and two that things are not quite as bad as I thought and that I am not beyond saving. I know. That last statement sounded weird, but honestly? I've been feeling beyond saving at this point. I've been feeling that bad. If I lost 20 pounds right now I assume that it would make me feel a lot better, knowing how I felt the last time I was in that ballpark. It is so doable it's ridiculous.

I also see myself (and my partner) getting back into being more active people, going for hikes regularly and playing tennis a few times a week in the good weather. But it will be really hard to do that if I don't lose a few pounds. It's seriously fucking me up.

Can I just say here? I love all those ladies who are in the social media spotlight being fat -- even really fat -- and living the good life. I love them because they are unapologetic for their size and because they dress up, they doll up, and they put themselves out there in a very vulnerable position. But, I ask myself a lot: Are they really physically comfortable? Do they have a ton of aches and pains like I do? Don't they get frustrated dealing with so much flesh sometimes? They make being fat look really easy, and I can tell you: It's really, totally, so NOT.

And that is why I still would like to lose weight even though it pains me to say it. Because it will continue to pain me if I don't. At least, that is the assumption. I guess we'll see once I get there, but honestly? It is a fair assumption.

My goodness! I didn't expect to be writing this much on this topic again, but there it is. So in 2019, I want to reclaim myself in wellness, and for me that means losing some weight whether anyone likes it or not. I don't have a specific goal, although just getting back under 300 is something that is doable and where I did feel comfortable, so...

+ Education. I am still trying to make it happen in January, but if nothing else I'll be heading back to school in August for Environmental Studies at my local community college. The spring semester starts on January 14th, so hopefully I can get all my ducks in a row in time for that. In the meantime, I've been studying stuff like algebra and trigonometry on my own -- I know that I am going to need advanced math at some point and I want to be sure that I'll be able to keep up! This is totally taking myself out of my comfort zone, but will be totally worth it. I have always labeled myself as someone who is "bad at math," and I am ready to prove that wrong.

+ Art. I need to settle on a studio space. I thought I would abandon my basement room for the first floor spare bedroom, but that room still has so much other stuff in it, I can't get settled even though I bought a nice (used) work table for it! I'd like to get the basement cleaned up (it's a mess from being abandoned for a couple years) and get my art shit together so I can work comfortably again.

Then, I am going to have a pop-up show coming up in early February to get ready for. I don't even know how much work I need to make yet, I'd better find out! I'll be doing a series of fantastical landscapes largely based on our cross-country trip.

I'd like to buy a nice, big sketchbook and start filling it up with experiments and just have fun making art again in 2019.

+ Blogging. I was much less active here as a blogger in 2018 than practically ever before. I want to change that in 2019 and would like to post at least twice a week, or for a total of at least 100 posts for the year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Ready for Real Life Again

Christmas day is almost over, and I am glad for it. *cue Grinch music*

Christmas has long been a tough holiday for me, and it turns out it is for my partner as well. It's a crap shoot how any given year will go, so I tend to just kind of... ignore that it approaches, more or less? We're both atheists and so the holiday has no special religious meaning, just purely cultural if nothing else. We have our traditions, like always watching the Rankin/Bass animated specials and movies like Die Hard that are Christmas movies that you always forget are Christmas movies. And of course we always plan on a delicious meal including ham. But that's about it. Some years I put up my white artificial tree, some years (like this one) not.

This year I felt especially disengaged from the whole thing, and overall there has been definitely been a depressive veil hanging over us for a while. (Yes, despite all the good stuff I've been talking about depression has been hanging around in various strengths throughout the year.) Come the big day I realized that it might have been nice to have some hints of festivity, including some gifts, which I just did not do – it never really seems to matter but I think they really do, even just some little things, something shiny to speculate on and rip open excitedly... I'll be better prepared next year.

Despite all that we had a pretty OK day eating leftovers from the delicious meal I put together yesterday, taking a long afternoon nap together, watching things like A Christmas Story and JFK assassination stuff and senior tennis matches. I also managed to throw together a batch of Christmas cookies – the zebra shortbread cookies from Bon Appetit – and they were pretty and delicious. (There's a photo up on my Instagram if you're interested in seeing them a la Amy G.)

I'm back to work tomorrow and feel relieved that the holiday season is now behind us. Yes, there's new year's eve, but that's not quite as loaded for me and kind of another non-event. I'm looking forward to a fresh start and just living life like normal again without all the pressures that end of the year holidays seem to bring – and that's even the way we do things, which is not to subscribe to hardly any of it!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

2019 Word of the Year: Initiative

One of my favorite bloggers/online people asked the question: What is your word of the year going to be for 2019? It's a great question; better than thinking about the cliche resolutions for the new year, I think! And so I have been thinking about this a lot since I got Anne's email, and today, it just popped into my head on the way into work.

Initiative.

Because things have really been happening lately it seems. Part of it is stuff finding its way to me (more well-timed freelance work, for example), but a lot of it seems to be coming from my own efforts. In particular:

+ I finally worked on and finished my friend's commissioned painting
+ A result of doing that painting was not just money, but also an exhibition opportunity and the impetus to make more art sooner than later -- no procrastination (OK, maybe a little!)

+ Speaking up at work expressing an interest in filling a gap that will result from a colleague's retirement, and actually getting quick feedback and moving forward with an eventual shift in position!

+ Having sparks of ideas for cool morale-boosting programs to do at work (a written interview series about all the cool people who work here, and an accompanying podcast), letting the right people know, and getting the response that "great minds think alike" and that those things have been germinating in a similar way to what I envisioned, and maybe I might be able help out with it? (I REALLY hope something comes of that!)

I literally just had those things pop into my head as I was driving to work this morning, and I wanted to act on it right away before it left the fore of my brain. Initiative.

So, how I can I keep this momentum through and into the new year? These are my next ponderings.

Some nebulous stuff for now:

+ Continuing to work on how I handle money in better ways, and finding more ways to make more money

+ School and maybe volunteering

+ Health stuff (so important, really took a back seat in 2018)

+ Continuing professional and personal development

I also just want to think more about what initiative means in the larger scheme of things.

Do you have a word you'd like to focus on in 2019?

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Positive Vibes

So, that dress I bought on super sale at Kmart last I wrote? I finally tried it on and discovered that it is actually a romper. A ROMPER, folks. Ugh. Not to mention what I didn't notice when in the throes of olympic-level shopping (i.e. fighting crowds during a store closing sale) how crappy the fabric is. I mean, kind of duh on my part, but... another checkmark goes in the slow fashion column. Quality over quantity, dudes and dudettes. I don't know why it's so hard to get through my head! (It's not really... I think more than anything it's about lifelong habits going back to shopping at Hills as a kid or something. Don't get me wrong, I loved shopping at Hills with my mom. I remember spending what seemed like hours there, poring through all the clothing racks and picking what to put on layaway... quite frankly, those are really nice "Mom" memories. I also remember shopping for expensive Jordache jeans and Bastaad clogs. I'm not sure how my divorced working Mom managed it, honestly!)

But I digress. The whole experience is making me crave that rebuilt wardrobe even more now, so much that I think I'm going to start a sinking fund for it as I realize how important it seems to be. I also envision revamping my underwear drawer: 10 pairs of comfy black socks, 10 pairs of (preferably black) underwear, a few bras I already own. Currently the underwear situation can be described with one word: Chaos. I never know where my socks are, they are often mismatched, and god forbid I get into an accident that anyone outside my partner sees my stretched out, overworn underwear. Just sayin'.

The first and only painting made in 2018, for my friend Maria based on her travels to Finland.

I'm feeling pretty good today. One reason is that last night was an ibuprofen dose night (I'm always good for almost the whole next day), and another is because all the sudden I find myself with all kinds of cool opportunities. I take it month by month based on the income I lost when I stopped teaching online, but you know? Things have been mostly OK. And now, these next few weeks will be even better. I got a new freelance logo design gig; I finally finished a commissioned painting for which I'll receive final payment for tonight; I had an offer for a pop-up art exhibition in February featuring my new foray into landscape painting (!) after a couple years' hiatus from painting all together and... I am starting training for a new position at the company I've been full-time at since August. It means a pay raise, though I won't know how much until it's clear that it's a good fit -- we're doing a trail/training period and if all goes well, it'll happen! I'm very excited about it. It's in a slightly different area (data management) though I will still be on the same "team" so to speak. And I'll still be able to offer support in the kind of work I am doing now (word processing proposals and other documents). I see it all as a very win-win and I get to learn something new and have a skill set that will benefit the company even more.

I know a lot of people don't like change, but to honest? I kind of thrive on it. I feel that in a short time I'm already well-valued here and to me, this offer says a lot about what my boss and others think of me and what I have to offer. It feels good! I really like going into the new year with all these positive vibes. 2018 was a real roller coaster for me, and while everything ended up turning out really well, I'm ready to say good bye to it and never look back.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Snippets

Well, it's been a minute. Or two.

I've been... busy? Kind of. Not really, to be honest. Mostly it's I've been in pain and a little sad and thinking a lot about writing but not having the energy (LOL) to do it. It's kind of ridiculous, but... it is what it is for now. I'll come back to that later.

In the interest of not falling off the face of the planet with this cherished personal space, I'm going to do random thoughts in list format. Fun, right?

+ Slow fashion. This is something that I've been thinking about a lot, as I have hinted at in past fashion-related posts. I would love to dedicate my closet to more eco and ethical brands of clothing one day, but I am still far away from that. Our local Kmart is closing, and I just bought two pairs of leggings, a dress, and a shirt for under $30. I plan to go back and hopefully score more leggings, actually ($4 each!)... but have mixed feelings about it. On one hand, this is disposable, "fast" fashion at its worst; on the other hand I suppose I could justify it knowing that I will wear the crap out of those clothes. Because my wardrobe is pretty small right now, anything I wear gets worn a lot, so I guess that is good. Those items won't go to waste.

+ The holidays. We don't really "do" the holidays so much at my house. Some years I will get the itch to throw up some decorations or even put up the tree, but some years not. This year I am feeling in-between. I still haven't put anything up yet, but have been wanting to bring out the couple little 2- and 3-foot trees I have and making some bourbon hot chocolate (with marshmallows!) and watch Rankin-Bass's Rudolph one night soon. I do have an evening with my mom planned for next Friday, just a casual take-out dinner in and probably watching bad Hallmark movies and just catching up on each other's lives. I miss that. My partner and I will get a nice ham for holiday dinner (not necessarily on Christmas or Christmas Eve) and aside from that, my dance card is empty, just the way I like it.

+ Chronic pain. Having pain all the time really, really sucks, and I've been feeling this way in some form or another since our cross-country trip in May. It's mostly about my feet but in general, all over, I hurt. It travels... sometimes it's more in this foot, or that toe, or that arm, or my back hurts as I am cutting up vegetables for dinner. I take ibuprofen regularly but try not to every day if I can help it. Waking up in the morning is when it's at its worst, and after I've been in the car a while, or getting up off the couch. I feel like I am 90. I do have my annual physical scheduled in early February so I am just waiting for that to get diagnosed with anything, or maybe it's just because I'm f**. (Trying to avoid spammers.) I know my doctor well enough now that I don't think he will just jump to that conclusion automatically, but you know, maybe it is the reason. It's just that I've been heavier than this and NEVER felt like this before. Also, my right hand cramps suddenly, often. I'm pretty sure that's carpal tunnel, but still. I am falling apart, in stark contrast to how I was feeling less than a year ago. It's so depressing. It makes me sad, and it makes me want to give up on everything and so I've been eating like crap, too. Catch-22. I've got to get off the carousel.

+ I love my job. I do. I am so happy that I found my way to this place. Professionally, I had a roller coaster year but it was all worth it. I had been unhappy in the two jobs I had (but didn't think I could live without), and while the way in which I extricated myself from them wasn't optimum, I finally let go (by getting let go) and I wish I had done it long ago. My only regret in that regard was not leaving on a good note in both instances. The job I am in now has inspired me to take my career in a different direction that I am really excited about, and allowed me more free time (my evenings and weekends are MINE to do with what I please!), and... I feel like I am doing something that matters, even on a small scale at this point. Plus, I've figured out ways to make the household budget work despite not working a second job anymore.

+ Speaking of budgets... For the past year or so, I've been working on improving my credit score and getting myself into a better position financially. I'm happy to say that one of my FICO scores has gone up by about 80 points (I hate that the three major bureaus are all different!) and I made good progress on paying off debt and! I even got my student loans out of default. (I know, stupid!!!) Another point of pride is that while I am still living paycheck to paycheck most of the time, I haven't overdrawn my bank account in a long time. That is something that used to be not such an unusual occurrence! My whole adult life I've never been good with money and have made a lot of bad decisions, so it feels good to be headed in the right direction. It's not happening super fast, but I'm getting there. (I still need to stop getting lunch out on weekdays, what a money suck!)

+ Wine and spirits. Yesterday I was making a recipe that called for a dry white wine, so I did a little research and ended up buying a ten buck California sauvignon blanc, Geyser Peak. It's the first time I've made a personal effort to drink this type of wine, and I must say, I really liked it! My partner hates California wines for some reason (he is very French, Italian, and Spanish-centric), but whatever. I'll try anything and I'm glad I tried this one. It had a bright, fruity flavor, not that dry to my palate. Plus, it went wonderfully in the shrimp risotto dish I made.

 I also decided to treat myself to some Cointreau while on the same liquor store trip. We're going to be making that bourbon hot chocolate that I mentioned earlier, soon, and I want to add a bit of orange flavor to mine. Perfection!

I'll leave you with those snippets of my life for now, and hope to be back soon! What have you been up to?

Monday, November 12, 2018

On Speaking Up.

NOTE: I started writing this post on 11/9, this past Friday.

I'm feeling kid of blah today when I should be celebrating! It's FRIDAY! Woo!

It snowed today for the first time of the season. It was pretty!

But I don't know, I just feel kind of down and blah and tired and...

I guess the main reason the wind is out of my sails is because I'm feeling self-conscious. I actually spoke up today at work about some concerns I had about being heard and feeling part of the team. It felt... very awkward even though I got good feedback from my boss and from my co-worker. It's a slightly weird situation in which I've come in to a small team of two women who have both worked for the company close to 30 years doing the same job. Things are changing and moving along and they are too, but as the new person who's only been around for six months, it's an interesting dynamic. I won't bore you with details and I can assure anyone that I do like my co-workers and I am very happy at my job. I realized during the convo, and said, that I think part of it for me is that working for this company makes me so ambitious! I want to do stuff, I want to contribute, I want to get shit done, you know?

But I have to be patient with how things are now and the fact that I am still the new person in our little office. My boss has told me this before, too. I know she is supportive and sympathetic.

One thing that my one co-worker who was part of the discussion (the other one was out today) was that while I feel like I am not being heard, she feels like I have to disagree with everything they say. (So, to be more clear, we're talking about formatting/designing documents. I have a professional and educated background in graphic design, while no one else in my area does -- though my two co-workers have been doing this for decades.) Hey, I don't dispute what she is saying, because I do often find myself disagreeing and saying so when it seems appropriate, which is... often.

I need to learn to step back a bit and take things in before I try to really inject what I feel I have to offer, I think. I guess I am not used to doing that! It feels uncomfortable. Part of me feels sorry that I did speak up, but part of me is relieved. Growing pains, I guess. It was nice to have that conversation in the open and with my boss present so that she knows what the concerns are about all around, not just me and not just them.

So there was that, but also remember how I mentioned emailing my favorite parfumier about collaborating artistically somehow? I did get a nice response from someone at the company saying that they are actually rethinking their marketing and that she'll pass along my info and links to that team to see if there is a potential fit. Hey, it's better than just a flat-out no. I still doubt anything will come of that inquiry but you honestly just never know.

Speaking out can be scary! But it can also be really good for you.

I feel like I am still getting my sea legs at work. I mean, I feel very comfortable doing the work I am doing, and I like the people I'm working with in general (although it really bothers me when someone says that they don't like cats -- I have a hard time getting around that), but I am still having trouble fitting in and I'm trying to figure out why.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Thoughtdump. (But Not Just Politics.)

Politics, yes, but keep reading for non-political thoughts, too.

Today is... a total mixed bag. I was SO pumped up yesterday after voting (which I did first thing in the morning because I was so excited, was number 26 in my district!) and really hopeful. You can probably guess that I was routing for a massive shift in the opposite direction for our government this election. To say that I am not a fan of 45 is an extreme understatement. But, there were more local races that I had my eye on, too. I have lived in New York state my whole life, and while everyone knows it's a reliable blue state on the surface, what many don't know is that there are rather large swaths of the population that are quite conservative and vote red consistently. Basically, if it weren't for New York City and a couple other larger cities in the state, New York would be a solid red, or at least a swing state. Niagara county, where I live, is one of those places generally. It gets really discouraging to see.

So, I was pretty sure incumbent US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) wouldn't have a problem keeping her seat. She won handily with 66% of the vote over her Republican challenger. Hooray!

The good news in New York state is that its government has flipped back into a democratic majority. I was very disappointed about some local races, though. The first one was for the seat held by incumbent Congressman Chris Collins (R), who has been under investigation/indictment for felony insider trading; he actually WON. He won. Do you know by how much? ONE percentage point.

This right there, folks, this is why it is so important to get out and vote. People think their vote doesn't matter, doesn't make a difference? It sure can, and it sure does.

I'm still shaking my head over why people want to re-elect someone who's got a felony charge hanging over his head.

Another race that I was excited about was Carima El-Behairy's race against incumbent State Senator Chris Jacobs (R) in the 60th district. I've known Carima for almost 20 years and was so hopeful that she would get elected there. Unfortunately I don't live in the 60th and couldn't vote for her myself, and it was too late before I realized that I could have still been actively supporting her since lots of people I know do -- we have quite a cut-up puzzle of districts here in western New York (oh, you know... gerrymandering). Carima put up a good fight but fell short with 42% of the vote.

Meanwhile, in my district, the 62nd, republican incumbent Rob Ortt ran practically unopposed for the second time in a row. That's right... no one challenged his State Senate seat in 2016. For shame. This time, he actually did have a challenger running under the Green Party line -- except very few people knew about him! In fact, I didn't find out about Peter Diachun until just over a week ago. Even then, I couldn't find out much about him except that he was a retired chemist running on a shoestring budget with the strict intention of only holding office for one session in order to get the New York Health Act passed. I emailed him expressing support and he sent me a link to his website, which I hadn't been able to find on my own, funny enough.

I wish I had been able to support him better, too! As you might imagine, he did not come close to winning the seat, with just over 10% of the vote. Sadly, 20% of the 62nd district voters chose not to cast a ballot at all for this office -- it was recorded that they left that circle blank on their ballots.

For shame.

I've learned a few things about myself during this election.

+ I need to be more proactive in learning about candidates and what my choices are way before the actual election (duh)

+ I need to pay attention to local races going on around me so that I can be supportive of candidates that I feel are deserving, even if I can't vote for them myself.

+ I want to become more active politically, somehow.

+ I want to pay more attention in general. Since the 2016 elections, I admit it -- I've been burying my head in sand a lot! But that will get anyone nowhere, am I right?

+ I'm realizing that my ambition to go into environmental science work is indeed a political act in itself, which makes me even more excited about it.

One proactive thing I did when I voted this time was ask the polling place workers how I could volunteer during future elections. It turns out that, bonus -- they actually get paid, paid well, and tax-free to boot! Also, in my voting district, they're in desperate need of workers. So I actually followed up and called my Board of Elections and left my name to be considered. The man I talked to on the phone this morning was actually really grateful to hear from me! He told me how busy the polls had been yesterday and how short they were of workers, and was also glad to hear from a younger person. I had to laugh at that one and made sure to correct him on that! But it sounds like (and seems like) many polling place workers are on the older side, so... I guess in comparison I'm a spring chicken.

I'm excited to be part of the process next year!

+ + + + + + + + +

In other news, er, thoughts...

I haven't weighed myself in a while, and I think I am going to stop food logging. I feel like I've been doing OK with my eating and really trying to pay better attention to what my body needs. I just don't feel like fussing so much at this point. As you know, this will likely change again in the future, but for now, this is what feels right.

I keep almost pulling the trigger about starting to make art again! It feels like an itch that I am going to have to scratch really soon. That said, I had one of my older small paintings sell at a group show I had a few paintings in recently, so that felt great. I also have a commission that's been in the works for almost two years now that I finally told the client (a very old friend of mine!) that I'm just going to set a real deadline so that it just gets done. So, by December 15th, Maria will finally have her Finland painting! Hooray! I also have a pile of small canvases that I am anxious to put something down on -- portraits, more houses, animals, still lives... I just want to try all those random ideas floating around in my head.

I have a deadline. It starts now.

(I've always worked far better with a definite deadline; don't ask me why.)

I did a crazy thing and emailed my favorite parfumier to say how much I love her fragrances and how I would love to collaborate with her as an artist and/or graphic designer. I'm sure nothing will come of it, but... you don't know until you ask the question. So I asked!

I'm trying to think of other "crazy" things I can do to get side work that I love and believe in.

Budgeting is still a priority but all kinds of things have happened this year, and it's been a roller coaster. I want to make paying bills and saving money easy. Is easy the word? More automatic? I am constantly scribbling in my notebook making the money I earn at my day job work for the expenses we have, but it hasn't been easy without the buffer of all the part-time stuff I had been doing up until a few months ago. We're making due, it's not horrible, but I hate worrying about it. So I need to make a plan so that I can fix that. And I know I can. (I've been listening to lot of Dave Ramsey et al, discarding the Christian stuff and taking the rest. I can hack it!)

I'm excited about my future wardrobe but won't be able to fully implement it until I have some money set aside. It's OK. I can wait!

Phew, that was a lot. Let me ask you: Do you mind that I don't often post photos? Funny enough, for a very visual person my blogs tend to be pretty wordy.