Ten Things of Thankful: The New School Year Edition

The first week of school has been great, so I thought I’d dedicate most of this week’s Ten Things of Thankful post to the good things about the beginning of the new school year.

Without further ado, I am thankful:

  1. for getting a new teaching schedule the week before classes started. Even though it’s been “interesting” trying to prep for a new course, it is so worth it.
  2. …that I now have six classes instead of seven.
  3. …that I won’t have a variable schedule this year. I teach the same six courses next semester. (For those of you who didn’t see my post about the first day of school, most courses actually run across both semesters. They are typically two semester hours–though I did get one three credit one, which is what has made all the difference in the benefits of my new schedule.)
  4. …that even though I was originally given OLD information about new (to me) course, the syllabus, and even the book, I have it all sorted out now. And it turns out that my intuition about how to start the class for the first week was right on target. WHEW!¬† ūüôā
  5. …for the amazing students in my classes. Every single class started out well. I was able to engage students and to get them involved in first day activities with no problems. (OK, the one 8:00 writing class was a little sluggish, but I can’t get the department to understand that students already aren’t keen on writing in a second, and that when you put it at 8:00 in the morning, I have to really put on a show to keep them awake, let alone engaged. Luckily, I’m pretty good at putting on a show.) And I’m thankful . . .
  6. …that I only have one 8:00 class this year. I have had two days with 8:00 classes for last two years, so this development is pretty awesome.
  7. …for my colleagues who support me in various ways, but especially for Justin, whose willingness to trade writing classes with me (and give up a four-day weekend in the process!) enabled me to get this new awesome schedule. Thanks, Justin! You are awesome.
  8. …that I was able to figure out a CURVES schedule that works with the new teaching schedule. Especially, since the last time I weighed in and got measured, all my numbers were moving in the right direction. In ten months time, I’ve lost 30 pounds! (13 kilos!)
  9. …that I am feeling like myself again, and that I can immerse myself in the teaching experience.
  10. …that I have this place where I can share all my good news with all of you wonderful people.¬†

241 days til 60!

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Rome is Looking a Little Rosier

REPORT FOR LAST WEEK

1. Complete 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:

  • editing project (2 sections) DONE
  • writing project (draft first unit; make plan for other units) (no real progress on this)
  • start a worksheet for new possibilities DONE
  • schedule the tasks from last weeks list to make a rough schedule for the coming year DONE

2. Go to Curves three times during the week. DONE

3. Maintain walking three times a week. DONE

4. Start piecing possible designs for quilted postcards. Done and did additional sewing as seen here.

5. Continue visiting my fellow builders. I wasn’t as good about this as I had intended.

6. Work on idea for decluttering challenge; continue posting daily; write a post about blogging Turns out that was a type. It was supposed to be a post about the decluttering idea. Regardless, it didn’t happen.

7. Catch up on my unanswered comments. I kept current with new things that came in, but didn’t make much dent on the backlog.

OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

  • Actually worked on the blog plan. Ready to put it on a calendar.
  • Made mini-lists of tasks for several of my major projects.

 

THIS WEEK’S COMMENTARY

Bradley has another great theme for this week: Finding Neverland!

This week take a break from your hard work and find your inner child. Find your way to Neverland! ūüėÄ

Wow, I feel like I’m finally ahead on something. Inspired by the Cartoon Craziness Challenge, I spent some time with my inner child over the weekend. I was so happy with my artwork, which followed closely on the amazing fabric play that is linked to on #4 in my weekly report above.

And I have an outing planned for next Monday, the 18th that involves flying a kite! OK, challenge accepted!

These two posts I refer to show something else. Building Rome is becoming less arduous on the day-to-day level. I don’t mind showing up. I don’t mind actually doing those blocks of time and staying focused for the duration. While the blocks have been helpful, they weren’t working as well as I had hoped for the last few weeks, but in the last few days, there is definitely a shift. My lethargy and lack of interest seem to be passing. I won’t start throwing confetti around yet, but as the title says, things are looking a little rosier for me around Rome.

GOALS FOR WEEK OF AUGUST 11

1. Complete 12 one-hour blocks. The tasks for those blocks include:

  • editing project 1 (2 sections)
  • evaluate new editing project and complete 2 sections (if taken)
  • writing project (map out all sections and start to write SOMETHING)
  • Work on a basic plan for upcoming webpage.

2. Go to Curves three times during the week; walk three times.

3. Sew blocks for Clue 3 of Summer Mystery Quilt

4. Start piecing possible designs for quilted postcards.

5. Continue visiting my fellow builders.

6. Write a post about decluttering; schedule launch.

7. Map out blog plan.

8. Catch up on my 20 unanswered comments. (Maybe if I choose a number instead of looking at it as catching up on all my comments, it will actually seem more doable.)

Good luck to everyone on meeting your goals this week!

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This post is part of the Building Rome Project. http://greenembe.rs/2014/08/11/building-rome-week-33-finding-neverland/

What Does Happiness Look Like? (Post #250)

coffeemeWell, for those of you who have not witnessed the way I overthink things sometimes, you are in for a scare treat. For this week’s Cartoon Craziness Challenge, the theme is Happiness!

It didn’t take me long to think:¬† WOW! I can draw a cup of coffee.¬† Not to difficult. Coffee makes me happy. It’s awesome. I can do this. Well, you get the idea. Then the next thing that came to mind is “Happiness is a Warm Puppy” — thanks Snoopy. And I love my little chihuahua, and since I’m no longer afraid of drawing things that aren’t perfect, I could work on drawing my puppy. Again — awesome!

That led me to doing a series with a mug of coffee and a sweet chihuahua and . . .  I was thinking of how to include quilting in some way. To give myself a little confidence when working on these challenges, I look online for how to draw tutorials for various things. As a result, I have a prototype for my mug of coffee that you see here.

And then over the weekend, someone mentioned that there was a place where we could fly kites. YAY! We made plans to fly kites on August 18! That’s something that’s been on my list for a while, and I specifically wanted to do it during my 600 days to 60 project. (I have a long “thing” about kites, but I’ll save that for another post.)

Now I had three things to draw: coffee, puppy, kite. I mini-series. The coffee was in the bag, so to speak. I found a great tutorial for a chihuahua, and started a little practice one. I figured I could save the tutorial and do it in time for the challenge. I had a decent idea of how to do a kite — smart me: have something that makes me happy that’s super easy to draw. But I looked up a few tutorials anyway.

By a lucky slip of the fingers, I opened Microsoft Paint while I was browsing kite tutorials. Serendipity! So I thought, what they heck! I’ll play around with the Paint program and see what kind of kite I can come up with. Here’s the answer.

kiteMy kite was just about finished when it was time to eat breakfast. And I went back to thinking about the quilting/fabric connection, and then it hit me. I could draw something as basic as that kite and then ZENTANGLE it! How awesome! I finished my breakfast. Then I was off and running sitting at my sewing table, with the machine pushed back, outlining a kite outline on some drawing paper and zentangling my way to a place of serenity and enjoyment! (A place I haven’t seen a lot of lately.)

And here is my Zentangle kite!

kiteOf course, this was already taking a lot more time than I really had, so I decided to save the puppy tutorial for another time. I’m sure there will be an opportunity at some point in the challenge, and if not, I’ll MAKE it fit.¬† haha

One of the most amazing things about the challenge this week is I realized doing these pictures is making me happy. This is an unanticipated outcome of joining this challenge. I expected it to challenge my attitudes and abilities in drawing. I didn’t expect it to become a source of excitement and happiness.

Thanks to Mental Mama and Indecisive Eejit for hosting this challenge. And thanks to the people in addition to them who also kept egging me on. I’m so glad you did!

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT: I JUST REALIZED THIS IS MY 250th POST!  YAY!

 

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This post is part of Cartoon Craziness Challenge: http://theindecisiveeejit.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/cartoon-craziness-challenge-happiness/¬† Maybe you can join in!¬† You never know what you might discover about yourself.¬† ūüôā

If We Were Having Coffee: The Clutter Challenge Edition

admin-ajax.phpIf we were having coffee, I would tell you that:

  1. It’s kind of late for coffee, but it doesn’t seem to affect my sleep, and I have a small scoop of vanilla ice cream in it. Maybe that negates the caffeine. ūüôā
  2. I didn’t have a very productive day, but I did have a minor breakthrough in a project that’s been giving me trouble. Maybe tomorrow I can move forward on it.
  3. I went back to Curves yesterday, and was very close to resuming the same workout that I did when I left three months ago, so the walking I’ve been doing has really kept me in pretty good shape. My upper body is a little sore, but not as bad as I expected. YAY!
  4. I need to find things that I can look forward to again. I realize that part of the reason it’s hard to get going is that almost everything has the same level of appeal at this time. And that level is real close to zero. So, I need to turn up the excitement.
  5. I made another realization. The level of (non)excitement is probably highly related to the amount of clutter that I keep around me. I almost feel buried alive sometimes. It’s hard to get excited about doing something when there is no place to work comfortably and when the things I might need for something that IS exciting might be difficult to find.
  6. I am thinking about starting a de-cluttering challenge, because I know I’m not alone in this feeling of having too much stuff.
  7. I know that if I keep this de-cluttering project to myself, it will be too easy to let it slide. I also know if I find others to get involved with me, we will all be more successful. Win-win!
  8. Later this week, my daughter and I have plans to Skype. THAT and talking with Mr. Logan is something to look forward to.¬† ūüôā
  9. I now have Clue 3 for the Summer Mystery Quilt. That means there will be an update before the end of the month.
  10. I feel much better after having coffee with you, and I always love this time we have together. Even if I’m not feeling so sociable at the beginning, you always have a way of helping me see the possibilities.

Ten Things of Thankful: End of July Edition

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnyone who has read more than one or two of my blog posts knows that coffee in one form or another is something I’m always thankful for. There have even been posts about specific coffee places I’ve visited. Since several of the items in my Ten Things of Thankful post this week are related to Pisces Coffee, I’m including a few pictures that my husband took while we were there.

 

  1. I am thankful for Pisces Coffee Shop, especially because it is part of my summer exercise routine AND a place where I can get a coffee reward for completing the exercise routine. WIN! Initially, it was my goal to walk the ten minutes there — with coffee and work tasks during my visit — and then walk the ten minutes home at least three times a week. With such a good system in place, it’s often closer to 5 days a week. Of course, when the semester starts in full swing, I will be going less, but I plan to keep it as part of my fitness/productivity plan. BONUS: During those weeks when we didn’t have air conditioning at home, I was especially thankful that they have air conditioning. It is an excellent place to go and “chill out” while getting some work done. They also have Wi-Fi!
  2. I am thankful for my former students who become friends. This week, Lynn — one of the few lucky students who had me for TWO courses last semester — met me at Pisces on Wednesday. We had a lovely time catching up and learning more about one another. We have both been involved in Summer Camps this year, so we had lots to talk about.
  3. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m thankful that my current hassles with my leg infection are under control. As a result, I’ve been cleared to return to Curves to resume my regular exercise program for August. I had been going from November of 2013 until the end of April of this year, before the doctors told me to stop. So I’m glad to be able to go back. And yes, we have Curves in Taiwan!¬† ūüôā
  4. I am thankful that I not only maintained the weight loss I’ve had since November of 2013, but during July, I lost an additional 3 pounds. This was great, considering that I wasn’t going to Curves¬† for the last three months. That was when I had substituted the walking to Pisces, along with continuing to watch what I eat. The goal was to maintain, so when I lost a little more, I was very pleased. I am optimistic that I’ll see a boost in the rate of loss when I resume my Curves schedule. I will keep up the walking as well. The combo should be awesome.
  5. I am thankful that we finally have our new air-conditioner. Our landlord arranged to have it installed last week, and it’s been wonderful to be able to sleep comfortably again.
  6. I am thankful that I still have six weeks left to tackle several major projects on my to-do list before my teaching schedule starts up again.
  7. I am thankful that in spite of my recent lethargy, I’ve been able to maintain daily blog posts for nearly two weeks. I am also thankful for all the people who follow me and who let me know what they’re thinking. The connections I’ve made on WordPress are really helping me feel stronger. Sometimes, when nothing else seems to get me moving, I feel that there are people out there waiting for me to post something. And it works!¬† ūüôā
  8. I am thankful that my husband found an ironing board at a consignment shop for half the price of a new one.
  9. I am thankful that we are setting up a different workspace for me. BONUS: I can sew in the air-conditioned bedroom!
  10. I am thankful that I have a whole fresh month ahead of me, a chance to start again. Let’s hear it for August!

Thank you to Lizzi at Considerings  for coordinating Ten Things of Thankful. Check it out and join in if you’d like.  

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And one more photo: Here I am outside of Pisces. I have been successful at avoiding this lovely pastry window MOST of the time.¬† I gave in once when my husband offered to get me a treat (and give the owners some extra business) in exchange for their ongoing kindnesses to me.¬† ūüôā

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What a Difference the Sun Makes

Photo credit: nuchylee at freedigitalphotos.net

Photo credit: nuchylee at freedigitalphotos.net

I am not one to make a big deal about the weather. It comes and goes, and except for when it’s really cold (or really hot), I don’t say much about it. Well until this year. This is my fifth winter in Taiwan, and while I have nothing on my friends and family back in the States in terms of weather to complain about, I have not been happy about the rain rain rain rain rain rain.

Central heat is not common in most apartments (or at the university where I teach), so when our cold spell stretched on and on this year, coupled with the rain rain rain rain rain, I thought I might go a little mad. Still the calendar said it would eventually pass, and it wouldn’t be long before I could trade my complaining for the hot, HUMID days that lie ahead. But in the meantime, I was getting a little tired of wearing fingerless gloves while I typed, and wearing three layers of clothing while huddled near the heater. But that wasn’t the only problem. The long, wet spell created another problem–laundry.

In our apartment, we have a washing machine, but no clothes dryer. No problem! We hang our clothes out on the balcony, as is the norm around here (at least for those without a clothes dryer). To give you an idea, we just had such a long spell where Dave was unable to hang out laundry that he almost broke down and carried it the two blocks for a coin operated dryer.

But what’s really been bothering me the last few weeks is that whenever I take the bus to go downtown for my exercise routine at Curves, I’ve had to deal with the wet weather. The cold I can “usually” handle, but I was getting so sick of the rain. You’ll understand more when I start posting what sidewalks in Taiwan are like. Today, after a day of classes and office hours, I headed to Curves.¬†I planned to catch the shuttle and¬†walk the five blocks from the train station downtown to Curves. I’ve done it¬†several times. In the rain.

But today, I ended up on the wrong bus. (An occupational hazard of not reading Chinese.) To be fair to me though,¬†the bus I got on was in the same place where I’ve caught the right bus several other times. But no matter. The one I ended up on¬†was going to the train station in Taipei not Taoyuan.¬†Luckily, I found out before we left the university premises, and the driver let me off.

I caught a local bus and settled in.¬†Then I noticed that although it was 5:00 in the afternoon, the sun was still shining. Wait! The sun was shining! Actually, I remembered¬†noticing the sun¬†at 8:00 this morning, when I walked into my classroom. I’d sort of forgotten what it was like to teach with the sun out. The sun changed everything today! It was brighter even sitting in my office this afternoon. So¬†when the local bus dropped me off at the stop closer to Curves, I walked there without having to worry about slipping on wet surfaces, or dodging raindrops, or wrestling with an umbrella. And because it had been a week since I’d been downtown at that time, it wasn’t gloomy. It wasn’t even dusk. We’ve turned a corner. When I get downtown late Monday afternoon, it will be brighter. Even if it rains–heaven forbid–at least it won’t be dusk on top of it.

What a difference a week makes. Even with a few glitches in my day, the difference between tonight and last Monday is amazing. Even my workout was much more pleasant as a result. Bring on the sun!

Stirring up some February Motivation

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

OK, the month of January has been a real slog for me. It’s not that I haven’t gotten anything done. I have, and some people might even say it was a lot. But I’m not going to make a list. I’m not looking for people to reassure me that I’ve done enough. I’m not looking for¬†someone to tell me it’s ok that I didn’t do as much as usual, that it’s enough, etc. I’m not¬†hoping for someone to make me feel better about it or¬†for some kind of cop-out. I’m simply¬†acknowledging that¬†January was less than I wanted it to be, and that I want February to be different.

I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions, but I did put together some preliminary notes about a few activities I want to experience in 2014. I just didn’t write the post yet. And here it is February.

So while there were things I wanted to do in January, I often sidestepped those items and took the easy way out. One of the things I did when my motivation was low was to clear out some of my blog comments and similar things in my email. Just this morning, I ran across a post from the first of November, New Month Resolutions. Randee talked about how posting every day in October had been easier than she expected it to be and that it might work to set up a goal or two for the new month. Well, she set up three. And in the comments, Yours Truly also commented that she had launched three activities for November (and December). Here is what I wrote at the time.

  1. I joined a quilt-along to FINALLY work on the quilt I‚Äôve been ‚Äúthinking‚ÄĚ about for my daughter for the last six years.

  2. I joined Curves to start working out 3 times a week, and

  3. I made an intention to finish the work on one of my textbook projects this month.

I knew I had written three things in the comment section of that post, but when I opened the post this morning, I didn’t remember what the three things were or if I had¬†actually followed through. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had¬†significant progress on these three items.

  • the quilt top for my daughter’s quilt is nearly finished (upcoming post will have pictures)

  • I am in my third month of Curves, and have accomplished 3 times a week most of the time (a record far better than¬† any other attempt at regular exercise EVER.

  • One textbook went to press, and I made some progress on the next one.

WOW!

So I thought to myself, “It’s February 1. Set some new intentions! Put them out there. It’s a short month. Don’t worry if they’re ‘the best’ ones. Just get something going! Get the wheels turning!¬†Stock up on exclamation points.”

So here goes! While there are many things that have deadlines and will occur naturally, these are the three things I will focus on in February

  1. De-clutter my work area, and begin work on my closet.

  2. Set an intention to do regular writing and follow through with it.

  3. Continue to make progress on my quilting projects.

It’s too early to tell if this will jump-start my motivation, but I have a focus now instead of just having all those to-do things bumping around in my head. Now I can settle down and put the others aside as I start my new plan: Focus for February!

471 days to 60

I am also posting this for FanFoFeb. You can check it out here:  http://willowdot21.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/fanfofeb-the-lovers/

Quilt-along Update #1

fabric before cutting

fabric before cutting

I’m thrilled to be starting on the quilt for my daughter. After all¬†this time of scheming and dreaming, it’s great to be able to actually cut into the fabric and begin the process of piecing a quilt. This quilt-along came along at the right time. At a point where I’m intentionally taking time for me, I just finished the 31-day blog challenge and am now moving to this quilt-along. (I also did my first work-out at Curves today!)

For those of you who may not understand what a quilt-along is, let me explain. In a quilt-along, a group of people are all working on a quilting project of their own, but they do it in a group, completing the tasks as a group. Sometimes, people meet in person to do this kind of project with everyone working on their projects.

This particular quilt-along is on-line, which means that the instructions and list of tasks come through email. Our host for the quilt-along is Rachel of StitchedInColor. The first post, for example, was a schedule that gives an overview of the whole process, from gathering the materials (October 17) to showing off photos of the finished quilts on a website that everyone joins (December 20). Then, each of the following emails includes the information and instructions that we need to move along through each step. In between these emails, the participants do the work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter the email that told us about the materials we needed to gather, we gathered and prepared the actual fabric after deciding on color schemes. The directions for cutting the fabric into strips and squares arrived on October 31, a nice treat for Halloween. Two days later, we received the instructions on how to piece the 4-penny patch, the block that we are using for this quilt. Now the schedule calls for sewing 20 of those 4-penny patch blocks each week, starting tomorrow!

I have never documented one of my quilting projects before, but my husband is taking pictures as we go, and I will include them in my updates. Since the sewing starts tomorrow, I thought I’d show you all the strips and squares I’ve cut over the weekend. The two lighter¬†fabrics at the top of the photo were cut today, so everything is ready. My sewing machine has been pulled out of storage and space has been cleared on the table for me to work toward assembling my 20 blocks for this week. If things go smoothly, I hope to exceed that.¬†I’ll keep you posted.

Good News: Perseverance Does Pay Off

Physical Fitness

(Photo credit: Justin Liew)

Last week, I had to postpone a trip to check out Curves (fitness center for women) because I fell and hurt my knee, the same one that had received a total knee replacement in January 2011. Since I had declared Perseverance for my seasonal keyword, I wrote last week about how it was already being tested.

Well, I’m happy to report that just one week later, I made it to Curves. The doctor had told me I could go as soon as I felt comfortable enough. And as long as I don’t push too much with that leg for a while, it should be fine. So tonight, Karen and I went so I could check it out, and it was great! The staff was friendly and helpful. The owner met with me (as he speaks English) and made a special arrangement¬†so I can try it for two months to make sure that it works out for me before making a longer commitment. It’s my intention to continue. I have made lots of provisions to make it happen and not leave it to chance.

For example, I’ve already told my taxi driver that on Mondays and Wednesdays when she picks me up from school, I’ll be going downtown to exercise. She knows that’s where I’m going, so if I change the plan she’ll know.¬†On those evenings, I’ll take the bus home. On Friday, I’ll take the bus both ways, but I’ll go for their 11:30 opening time. As a reward for going all three days, Friday is my day to visit downtown Taoyuan coffee shops to have a latte and explore new locations to have some paperwork sessions. If I miss one, I just go to the next one and keep it going.

Tonight, I was able to manage all but two of the machines. A third one is somewhat troublesome at the moment (only because I can’t get in and out of it quickly enough to keep up), so we’ve eliminated those three stations for now. But the rest of it is doable, and I went through them all twice. I like my trainer, Kimmie, and even though she thinks her English is poor, I think we are going to be just fine together. After the cool down stretches, Karen and I headed out for vegetarian dinner, and I took a taxi home. I am so glad Karen was there to help me communicate through the process of getting everything set up and to give Kimmie a sense of confidence about working with me. She actually told Karen that I seem easy to work with.¬†I guess she’ll get to know me better.¬† ūüėČ

My two-month trial actually starts on Monday, rather than¬†tomorrow (Friday),¬†to give my knee just a couple more days to heal from last week’s fall. I have to say though, even for the first night, not pushing all the way, I felt good for having done it. And maybe it’s just the regular course of healing, but I definitely felt better this morning. I was able to do more walking without the cane, and I have less pain. I’m looking forward to Monday, and doing it all again.