The Great Retirement Experiment

Ha!  I could make a new blog all about retirement!  Does anybody else do that–daydream about new blogs they could write.  When they can’t even keep up with the old one, yeah, that’s a good idea.  I’ve been enjoying reading real life books about life on a farm lately.  So I woke up thinking I could start a new blog–“Life in a Cabin.”  Oh.  I guess that’s what this blog is already about LOL.

So.  Back to the retirement topic.  I know you guys are madly curious about it.  No.  I’m not bored yet.  According to Debra SY, that could take anywhere from 4 weeks to 4 years.  I’m putting my money on the 4 years.

I decided to treat my quilting like a job, albeit a very enjoyable one.  I need to start by 9 or 10 am and work for 4 hours on my quilting. I love this arrangement.  Because in the past, I would putter around, mostly thinking about the housework I needed to do, fooling around to avoid the housework I needed to do, and not quilting because, well, there was housework I needed to do, and how could I enjoy the quilting when I felt guilty about the housework I needed to do.  This way, I have my morning routine–check emails and blogs, spend quite a bit of time reading, journaling, and praying, and then head out the door for the morning walk with Noah.  Exercise done for the day, if I choose not to do anything else.  Back home, I start in on the quilting.  I don’t have any pictures to show you because I decided to try working on a large project from start to finish (very unusual for me.)  And when I am done quilting for the day (believe it or not, 4 hours of quilting is very tiring,) I am actually getting more housework done at the end of the day than I did before.  I do believe the house will be presentable in about 10 years.

The thing I like most about retirement so far is the change in my attitude.  I am more relaxed.  I don’t have an undercurrent of anxiety about work running all the time.  When I think about doing something I am much more positive about the possibility of it happening.

I’m still daydreaming about that farm in Oregon.  There are so many things I like about it.  LOVE the house, the barn, the property.  Love that it is near my best friend.  I don’t love so much that it is far away from this community that I have here.  I’ve lived here for 25 years.  And being that I’m not the most outgoing person in the world, it took me a long time to develop that community.

Oh, here’s some big news!  Guess who’s going to have surgery on BOTH OF HER HANDS!!!  Yep.  Its not like the doctor talked me into it or anything.  It was more the stories about the old geezers who would come in and their nerves were completely gone.  They just kept working with the carpal tunnel until their hands didn’t work any more.  I don’t want that to happen to me.  I’ve had this for 10 years.  It got much better for a long time.  But lately its been driving me nuts.  So I guess that’s my first big retirement project.  One at a time.  Each one takes about 6 weeks to recuperate from.  And he explained to me, when the nerve is fairly damaged, it can take a LOT longer for that to regenerate (nerves heal at about 1mm per day.)

Anxiety.  Changing the subject rapidly.  I don’t think I referred to myself as anxious for the first 50 years of my life.  I WASN’T anxious.  Because I ATE, and that kept me calm and cool and collected.  From the time I was very young, I was kind of proud that I never got nervous or anxious or upset about anything.  Ha.  Then last year I read that book that made me look at what the cause of my overeating was.  And I could see the things/people that made me anxious and how my overeating was a direct response to that.  But now, even though I recognize that anxiety, I still have the automatic response of wanting to eat.  The other day I was heading down the hill.  I had to drop off my dad’s trust to have an attorney look it over.  I was bringing a salad dinner to share with some other women at our Spiritual Formation Salon. I had been thinking, gee, I’m not hungry at all.  I guess I’ll just skip dinner.  The MINUTE I walked out of that office after dropping the trust off, I thought, ‘Man, I am ravenous.  Where did that come from?‘  Yeah.  There’s really no reason for me to be anxious about that trust, but it does make me extremely anxious.  Fortunately, this time I recognized the anxiety, and decided not to eat because of it.  I did have a small salad about an hour later, which was just right.  Dr. Kessler (The End of Overeating) says that neuropathways are formed in our brain when we comfort ourselves with food.  And I’m thinking that if those neuropathways are as slow to change as the nerves in my hand, well, its gonna be a long time until the old ones are gone, and new healthy neuropathways are formed.

I’ve gone to the pool two times now.  I was able to swim for 30 minutes straight the second time.  I think it might be the summer of the pool for me.  I get excited thinking about going.  And tomorrow I am signed up for a TRX training class.  I have belonged to the gym for over two years, and this will be the first class I have taken!  I’ve been wanting to try TRX for a while now.

Finally, a successful batch of granola!  Used Shelley’s recipe, and watched very carefully.  I usually burn it and have to throw the whole batch out.  I wonder if you cooked it longer at a much lower temperature if you would be able to crisp it up without the possibility of burning it?  Anyway, quite delish.  I added some date nubbies (don’t know what these are called–ground dates that are rolled in oat flour so they don’t stick to everything,) raisins, and for the nuts, I used pecans, sunflower seeds, and pepitas.  I also added a tiny bit of uncrystallized candied ginger, chopped up fine.  Quite yummy.  Thanks Shelley!

Granola over homemade yogurt, with a few dried cranberries added.

I don’t have much more to say for myself.  My official retirement party will be this Thursday.  I’m looking forward to seeing everybody.  And two weeks from today I will leave for my week in Coupeville, working with  quilt artist Marianne Burr.  Hands, you just gotta hold out for a few more weeks!

Random Thoughts

Well, not entirely random.  As usual, mostly about food and exercise.

Yesterday I took another flying trip to the bay area (not airplane flying, just down and back in one day.)  I did NOT want to go.  I was tired to start, and it was about my dad’s failing health, and I was just DEPRESSED.   I was thinking about why I was depressed, and I think a big part is that my house has gotten really cluttered.  Its small, so it doesn’t take much.  Mostly magazines, books, and fabric–too much and not in the right place.  I decided that I would really put an effort into de-cluttering.  More on that later.

So I did stop at the gym for a workout before I got on the road.  That always makes me feel better about myself.  It was a good workout.  I really pushed myself.  All day yesterday I felt really great.  Very energetic and strong.  So this morning when I woke up and felt TERRIBLE, that was disappointing.  My back hurt, my left ankle was practically collapsing, and my right knee ached.  Ouch.  What was it?  It didn’t seem like just the usual day after a workout aches and pains.  Was it the 9 or so hours in the car?  Or was it the way that I slept?  Who knows.  When my body feels that bad, I immediately imagine the future and wonder what kind of shape I’m gonna be in.  I kind of surprised myself that I just took some ibuprofen, and didn’t even wait for it to work, but just headed out the door with the three doggies in tow.  After a while everything felt okay, although Monk was very happy that I was going his speed instead of Noah speed.

While my dad and I were out, we went to Chili’s for lunch.  I looked everything over, and almost ordered a big lunch (they make it so tempting–you can get a ton of food for $8.)  At the last minute, I said nope, just the bowl of soup and one piece of garlic bread (that’s what my dad likes to get.)  The waiter offered us the basket of bread, and we both said no, just one piece each.  That soup is definitely the ‘cheapest’ thing (calorie-wise) they have on the menu.  Very salty though.  When I have something like that  I know I am changing my taste buds to be satisfied with less salt.

One of the ladies that helps my dad brings him a Fiber One bar every time she comes over.  He takes them politely, but doesn’t really want to eat them.  I kept finding them around the apartment–I told him it was almost like an easter egg hunt!  So, I brought those home with me.  I don’t know if this is a step backwards or not.  I used to LOVE those things.  Then, when I started eating ‘cleaner,’ I left them behind.  I was surprised when I looked at the label that they didn’t have wheat in them.  We’ll see.  They are every bit as delicious as I remember.  140 calories of high fiber junk food.

So today I read quite a bit in one of the recent organizational books I have read–Organized Simplicity.  Written by a   blogger.  Its very well written.  I didn’t really get to the practical nitty gritty of how to organize and simplify, so I set my timer for 30 minutes and went to work on the clutter.  An hour later, I had a good bit done, but its just a dent.  Nevertheless, those clear clean spaces make you feel good.  One funny thing I found was a book I had bought–Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?

Food today.  BTW, I really do think making a plan for the day is a VERY GOOD tool in our fight to maintain control.  It gives me something to look forward to when I might be tempted to eat some unplanned food, and it helps me to see that I am eating a balanced ratio of food during the day.  I started the day out with the one-minute muffin.  The ingredients are very similar to my spackle.   And it did hold me until lunchtime.  I think I might like it better cooked in a skillet.  But seeing a muffin appear after one minute in the microwave was pretty fun too.

Lunch was something I had had up at my friend’s house.  I remember it was fun  because it was such a big bowl of food.  A cup of strawberries cut up, one pear cut up, 1/2 cup of cottage cheese, and 100 calories worth of chopped walnuts.  Yumm.

Afternoon snack was the rest of the strawberries and the aforementioned Fiber One bar, with a cup of coffee.

For dinner I flipped through my Trader Joe’s cookbook looking for new ideas.  I am going to shred some already cooked pork on top of some romaine lettuce and shredded carrots, and top it with some homemade guacamole.  Late evening ‘dessert’ will be some yogurt, pecans, and honey (thanks for that idea, Jill.)

Loved the Twofitchicks Podcast with Lynn.  Lynn has a great natural way of chatting that is so enjoyable.  She said one thing that has really stuck with me.  She said she meditated on/remembered exactly how she felt at her favorite lowest weight.  I just really like that idea.  I tend to think about how I felt at my highest weight.  I’m pretty sure I didn’t have the above mentioned aches and pains at my recent lowest weight of 155.  I hope that it is not just the age thing, and the progression of arthritis.  Hopefully losing some of this weight will help that.  And when (not if) I get back to 155, I am going to consciously think about how I feel so that it will be imprinted in my memory.


Does anybody else do this?  I walk around all day thinking about great new blog topics.  They usually revolve around some food/diet/exercise/maintenance victory I have had, and I think I must share that.  It might help someone else. And then I have an extremely non-victorious day.  And it all goes out the window.  What right do I have to tell anyone else how it is done?  I can’t do anything right myself. That’s what happened Friday.  As I explained to good blog buddy Jill:

Ugh.  That’s what I say about this weather today.  About today in general.  It was supposed to snow, but instead it snowed just enough during the night to put the electricity out, which turned the porch light off, which gave the raccoon the go-ahead to get into the dog food, which made Noah bark non-stop, which made me get up and bring in the two giant cans of dog food off the porch.  Problem solved.  Until I woke up to smoky smell in the house.  I HATE THAT!

Oh, and then I decided to make a batch of homemade yogurt this morning.  All excited about that.  I heat the milk in the microwave for 13 minutes, and then after it cools down a bit, I add some yogurt to it.  Oh.  Except I forgot to get some yogurt at the store.  Got dressed and down to the local store in the rain to get yogurt and a few other things.  All before 8:30am.  Sigh.

Oh. So then, because I ate a crappy pancake for bfast (didn ‘t have my cottage cheese for protein pancakes) I felt too full.  So I remedied that by eating some walnuts, then some more walnuts and raisins, and then some of those ginger cookies.  Ah, its good to have my eating under control AFTER SIX STINKING YEARS OF WORKING ON THIS!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, before that I was thinking about sharing about how I make little refinements in the way I eat or interact with food.  I think sometimes these little changes can add up to major ‘lifestyle’ changes.  Here’s a few refinements I’ve made in the past month or so.

  • Gum and sunflower seeds.  For quite a long time I kept a hefty supply of Eclipse gum on  hand.  Same thing with the reduced sodium sunflower seeds.  Then for a while I kept the sunflower seeds in the car all the time.  Of course, the gum was always in my purse.  So pretty much most of the time I was in the car I was munching on sunflower seeds or chewing gum.  Pretty soon it became apparent that I could not drive anywhere without something in my mouth.  Sometimes on the way home from work I would chew a whole pack of gum (I don’t like to chew one piece for very long.)  And in between I was munching on the sunflower seeds.  Now, neither of these things have that many calories in them.  Still, a whole pack of Eclipse gum is 60 calories.  And by my unofficial count, I can eat about 100 calories of sunflower seeds in one hour.  Anyway, one day I decided that this was more about having something in  my mouth all the time.  And that maybe it would be a good thing to practice spending time without food in my mouth, especially in the car.  So I stopped buying the gum.  And I stopped keeping the sunflower seeds in the car.  I kind of make a game of setting an hour or two without amusing myself with food in the car.
  • Taking food to bed.  I got into quite the habit of taking a little cup of ‘homemade trail mix’ (walnuts, raisins, and chocolate chips) to bed with me, not every night, but quite a few nights.  This had nothing to do with hunger.  More to do with just having a treat.  So sometimes I substituted grapes, and then I mostly just stopped.  Really, its too many calories for a treat (on top of the dessert I already had earlier in the evening.)
  • Salt.  I’m not always 100% with this.  But usually, I try to eat vegetables and meat without adding extra salt.  Sometimes I just move the salt shaker off the table, and then I am too lazy to go and get it.  Just trying to learn to enjoy the food without extra salt.
  • Spackle 2.0.  My newest obsession.  It is a very healthy breakfast, and I love how it keeps me full for a very long time.  But really, at 500 calories, it is more than I need for breakfast, and in fact, I am too full after I ate it.  Half the recipe would not be quite enough for me, so I came up with a smaller version that comes in at 320 calories that I am very happy with.  It will be just right, I am sure.  And if I get hungry mid-morning, I can have a piece of fruit.  Which I really enjoy also.
  • The no-dairy challenge.  That went pretty well. I only went 6 days instead of seven.   The main thing I need to do is to NOT keep so much dairy in the house that I feel pressured to eat more of it than necessary.  Most days I only eat two small servings (1/2 cup) which is not that much.  I enjoy it, and it is good for me.  And I don’t like taking calcium supplements, so I should be eating it regularly.
  • I’ve been switching around my workout at the gym.  Adding in more free weights, doing more circuit-type routines, adding in the PLANK.  Hey, can a plank be an aerobic exercise?  Man, I was just huffing and puffing and my heart was pounding after the last one I did (55 whole seconds LOL)

In spite of these refinements, I have not lost the six pounds I gained over the holidays.  It is tough to change your regular patterns of eating.  It is extremely frustrating to me that I still struggle with this  SIX YEARS after starting the weight loss journey.  But today I am content that I am continuing on, making healthy choices, eating wonderful satisfying delicious food.  Working on portion control, and not eating when I am not hungry.  That’s okay once in a while, but its not okay as a way of life (if I want to maintain a lower weight.)

Lori wrote a wonderful blog today, about enjoying food that was also nourishing to your body, and that those two things were not mutually exclusive.  That is pretty much what I am always working on.  Tonight I had a meal that was just that.  I picked up some strawberries at a farm stand today, and I had some of my most favorite cottage cheese in the fridge (thank you, Safeway, for bringing back your 1% cottage cheese) and then I had a piece of previously  cooked chicken because I was feeling the need for meat, and had the little carrots because I was too tired to cook anything.  Oh, and some of that Chevy’s salsa to dip the carrots in–yumm!

Friday, when I was in such a fowl temper pretty much all day long, I was finally snapped out of it when I was laying on the couch in  the evening, watching a movie.  Noah was sound asleep on the floor, and Sophie was on my lap under the quilt I was working on.  Mr. Monk was in his usual position, on top of the sofa cushions, and I heard his soft, even snoring.  And I thought, this is pretty nice.  Imagine that.  A whole silly day in  a bad mood, and a snoring dog is the solution.  Who knew?

Hey, while I was writing this, a news flash came up on my screen–The Kings Speech won the Academy Award for best movie!  Good choice!

Eat Your Fruits and Veggies

Well, lucky for me, my funks are usually very short-lived.  Enjoying a great evening of food and fellowship with my friends was good therapy. It helped that I had my pictures of Africa on a CD so I could share that with them.  We watched a great sermon by this guy (I know.  But that’s what we do for fun.)  Had a great discussion after it was done.

So today while I was in a boring class, I was listing what I had eaten for the day, and I noticed again that I am not getting anywhere near the amount of veggies that are recommended.  The whole Weight Watcher’s thing is only partly why this is on my mind.   There was that study from the Nutrition Action Healthletter that I quoted a while ago.  Anyway, I am going to try to eat at least 5 veggies and 3 fruits every single day for a week and see if it changes the way I eat overall.  I have a theory that fruits and veggies are self-limiting.  In otherwords, after a while, you don’t want to eat so many of them any more.  I think that’s why W.W. can make them 0 points.  Anyway, that has been my experience in the past.  After a while I want something harder or chewier than fruits and vegetables.  Thus the increase of grains in my daily diet.  But I also know that I have changed other food habits in my life and become happy and satisfied with those changes.  Its worth a try.

So the pictures today have very little to do with my fruit/vegetable theory.  They are just what I had on the camera for the last day or two.

I wanted some roasted veggies (because that is the easiest way to cook vegetables, it seems.)  I didn’t have anything but these carrots, but that sounded very tasty to me.  WRONG.  I only ate a couple.   The rest went in the garbage.  They had a weird plastic-y taste to them.  Has anyone else experimented with roasted carrots?

This is that Fabulous Quinoa Breakfast. You guys have to try this!  Its simply…well, its fabulous!  I had a really big Cameo apple that I used in it.  Not quite as sweet as a Fuji, but very tasty.

Ooh, this was dinner tonight.  Also quite fabulous.  I’m glad I made a big recipe–6 servings.  Its that Chicken with Balsamic Tomatoes that Mizfit reviewed.  I’m not going to post the recipe on my site, because I followed the recipe almost exactly.  Except I didn’t serve it over pasta.  I had some sauteed onion/mushroom/zucchini that I served it over.  Very wonderful.  I also think it would be great over a baked or boiled potato.  Maybe even on top of a bed of lettuce. (Trying to be creative and get those veggies in.)  Anyway, it had a wonderful flavor to it.  I added a little oregano, basil, and garlic to the sauce, because I didn’t think the canned tomatoes had that much in them, and then I took the chicken out and cooked the sauce down a little bit longer to thicken it.

And here is my most favorite little boy, in the funniest position on the back of the sofa.


I know.  Its hard to believe that *I* could get in a funk.  By definition, I don’t think you can write in the middle of a funk.  Oh no, that’s not right.  There’s writers who have made a career out of writing while in a funk.  ANYWAY, for me,  that is the definition.  I am choosing to believe that the funk has ended, and things I will start looking up from now on.

It started yesterday at the dentist’s office.  Oh, you say, that is enough to put anybody in a funk.  I don’t think that’s what did it.  It was just a filling replacement, and except for about 2 minutes of anxiety and ‘almost’ pain, it was over quickly.  I think it was because it was in the middle of the day, which, for me, just throws the whole day out of wack.

I had actually walked Noah in the morning before I left, and I also hit the grocery store AND worked out really hard at the gym before I went to the dentist.  In fact, somewhere in the middle of yesterday afternoon I thought about writing a post about how enthused I was about working out hard with the weights and making progress and all.  But that all went out the window as the afternoon wore on.

So I came straight home from the dentist, and wanted to work on making a CD of my Africa pictures.  I am going to do a presentation at a women’s function in April, and I also wanted to share the pictures with some friends that I am going to visit today.  I chose 97 pictures, and figured out how to put them in a separate ‘album.’  Then I started trying to ‘burn’ a CD.  To be fair, I had trouble with this the last time I tried.  To make a long story short, and to prevent the rest of you from falling into a funk reading this, I was never able to burn the CD.  I tried so many different ways to do it.  I even made a ‘burn folder’ and tried to do it from there.  In the middle of all that, I thought, well, I’ll just have real pictures printed.  I tried multiple places/ways of doing that, and was unable to do that.  As a last resort at the computer, I thought, I’ll just check my bank account, and be done with it.  I know my bank account is good and that’ll cheer me up.  I typed my password in wrong THREE times, and ‘for security reasons’ they locked my account.

I gave up and watched a movie.  And ate.

Then, I tried again before I went to bed.  This time something else happened, and EVERYTHING on the computer was SO BIG that I couldn’t see the whole window of anythimg–internet, email, IPhoto–NUTHIN’.  Oh it was maddening.

So this morning I waited impatiently for 8am so I could call my BF and ask her how to fix things.  And she patiently told me to call Apple.  Again.  Why have I resisted calling them for so long?  They were so nice and personable.  Fixed the screen problem immediately, and gave me a few ideas about how to fix the CD burning problem.

In the meantime, the funk had already taken hold.  You know, where nothing you DO seems good enough, you don’t DO enough,  pretty soon YOU are not enough.  And soon enough, I just wanted to eat my way through it.  Everything I ate this morning was healthy.  That’s a comfort.  Its noon and I’ve only eaten 930 calories.  Oh well.

So I checked out a few blogs, and PJ had a great one titled If Not Food,  What? She had a whole list of things I could or should do.  I am going to choose to ignore the things I should do today.  Give myself a day off and do the things I could do.  Which is writing this blog to connect with you all and laying on the couch quilting and watching a movie.

I’ll bet people in Africa never get in a funk.