Self Improvement

Encourage Passion

In the fall of 2017, I will start classes for a degree in science.  Of course I am not certain what I will get a degree in, but I know it will be science.  For the people that actually know me, this will not be a surprise, but for the many, many people I have come across in the past, they will probably think this is a waste of time.  After all, I will be turning 44 years old in a couple weeks and, to them, I should just do what everyone else in the world does, such as, hate my job, but continue working at it because that’s what responsible people do.  I can’t even count how many times I have been told, “everybody hates their job” and “no one likes going to work”.  Well, why is that?  I know that each person is different and I tend to think differently than the majority, but that doesn’t mean I should conform to the cookie cutter mold of the traditional woman.  I am not the traditional woman of the past and I am proud of my uniqueness.  Maybe I am just being selfish and blind to my own faults, but I don’t see that the problem is in me, but instead believe the problem is that the people telling me to conform have not been paying attention to who I actually am.   Or they don’t care.  Here are several examples of moments from my childhood, the moments from my adult life are far too many to list, that should have been a clue that I didn’t think like the average girl.

When I was a child, I did play with dolls, but not always in a traditional way.  When you think about a little girl playing with dolls you may picture a nurturing child that is pretending to be the mom and caring for a family.  Probably with a bow in her hair and maybe even a dress. What you probably do not picture, is a quiet little girl with long brown hair, sometimes with a bow, dressed in denim jeans, strategically placing army men around the doll house, waiting for the signal to attack.  That girl was me.  Maybe it was because I had brothers or maybe it’s just who I am because I still love playing strategy war games.  I could have been encouraged to have a military future.  Of course, when I played with my friends I would be more traditional with my dolls.  I did also like to crochet clothing and fashion accessories for them, so there was a wide range of interests being shown.

I loved miniatures of every kind.  I wanted to build villages, roads, farms.  I would spend all day at my grandma’s farm making roads in the hillside for my toy cars to drive around. Toy Cuda My favorite was to build on a slope so I could watch the car drive down the winding road on its own.  I loved to use Lincoln Logs and Lego to build houses and towers.  These are all engineering skills that could have been noticed and encouraged. 

There was a lot of time spent hanging around my dad and later, my brother, while they were working on cars or even a lawn mower.  I think most people thought I just wanted to hang around them, but I genuinely enjoyed engines being taken apart and put together.  The excitement of an engine first starting up will always be a thrill for me.  I love tools of every kind to this day!  Here I could have been encouraged to be a mechanical engineer.

Feminine things still had some fascination for me.  I did, and still do, enjoy putting on makeup and styling hair with my friends.  One of my lifelong best friends is a hair stylist and another studied makeup artistry.  Both are very well suited for those careers.  I am not a daily makeup user, but when I was little I would mix perfume together to make a new fragrance.  This usually ended badly, but an enjoyable experience, none the less.  I would pour out the liquid lip gloss and add eye shadow or blush powder to design new colors.  Maybe chemistry could have been encouraged there.

Not everyone was oblivious to my interests.  I believe my grandpa knew I would be a very independent woman and was paying attention to the clues.  At the time he would say things like, “you might not always have a man around to do these things for you so you should learn”.  At first that sounds extremely sexist, but I think his heart was in the right place.  He knew I was interested in learning.  There were other granddaughters, but I don’t think he bothered teaching the others how to change a tire or change the oil in a car.  Maybe he did and I didn’t see it, but he spent a lot of time teaching me things one on one and I will always love him dearly for that.  Even though he has been gone for 20 years, I still get tears in my eyes (I actually had to stop writing this for a bit so I could regain my composure after a good cry) just thinking about him and how he treated us as individuals and not just children.  Of course he never said “Jeanette, you could do this for a career”, but he did say “you can do this”.

Now, don’t get me wrong, my parents told me that I was smart and seemed proud of me, but I don’t know that they had any ideas for suitable career paths.  I was born in 1973, so they are still pretty traditional by nature, and my parents both seemed to have the idea that you just get a job, any job that will pay the bills, and you keep working your ass off every day.  That’s commendable and I have great respect for people with strong work ethics.  I always put my all into my jobs and I’m usually really good at whatever job I do, but that does not mean it’s a good fit for me.  Also, my family are not the reason I have not gone to college until now.  I did try briefly when I was 20 years old, but poor decisions, made by me, got in the way.  Now, I feel I have good, supportive, people around me and the time is right.  Furthering my education has always been very important to me and there is no reason not to work at bettering myself.

I think the main point I would like to get across is this, before telling someone what you think they should be doing, ask yourself if it’s really what you feel they should do based on you and society, or if you were paying attention to who they really are and if it’s the right choice for them.   I believe peoples passions should be encourage, not overlooked.

No more sugar, please!


It has now been 3 1/2 months since I began my sugar free journey.  Of course I still have a small amount of sugar, as I’ve mentioned in my previous post.  I even had a piece of the coconut cream pie, pictured above, at Christmas time.  The joy of that piece of pie was short lived, however.  After eating something with a lot of sugar I start to feel a little jittery as if I’ve had too much caffeine or a mild panic attack.  I believe this is because the pie has processed sugar and causes a blood sugar spike.  This adverse reaction helps discourage any further “cheat” snacks so I’m glad it happens.  It’s actually been pretty easy to stay away from sugary snacks and desserts though.

Over 3 months of eating minimal sugar, I lost 12 pounds.  I wasn’t trying to lose weight so this was just an added bonus.  Losing a pound each week with zero exercise is a pretty great bonus, if you ask me.  In the last two weeks I have started exercising regularly, for heart health, and I feel great!  

The greatest and most surprising benefit that I have experienced is sleep quality.  I still sleep the same amount, sometimes a little less, but I’m well rested and don’t feel the need for caffeine at all.  It’s a little difficult to wake up at times because I’m in such a deep sleep.  My answer to this has been to exercise first thing.  At least in the last couple weeks, anyway.  Showering first thing would work as well, but I feel cold as soon as I leave the covers so heating up the body with a good workout is perfect for me.  My sleep quality was always an issue before.  It took a long time to fall asleep and then I would wake up every couple hours and be tired all day.  Now I can fall asleep quickly and maybe wake up once a night.  Sleep alone is reason enough for me to continue a sugar free life.

To sum up my experience, I feel healthy, I look healthy, and that makes me happy.  With results like these, I plan on being happily sugar free for the rest of my life.  

Hold the sugar, please.

In continuing my efforts to become a better me, I have chosen to stop eating sugar.  I don’t mean that I can’t have any sugar because that’s not really practical.  I have stopped eating added sugars.  For 5 weeks now, I have been eating less than 45 grams of sugar a day.  It’s usually between 20 and 25 grams per day.  From what I have read, 4.2 grams of granulated sugar equals one teaspoon.  So I am averaging 4 or 5 teaspoons a day which is what the American Heart Association recommends for a woman. It doesn’t seem like that’s a difficult request but they do not distinguish between natural and added sugars.  It all counts toward the same total grams of sugar.

How did this start?  This was not something I planned on doing.  In fact, I was certain I would never give up my candy, soda or cupcakes.  Man do I love a good cupcake!  It started one weekend when I ran out of candy and was too lazy to go to the store.  I realized on Sunday that I had already gone two days without candy so I thought, this is a good time to stop eating sugar.

In the first week I was astonished by how much sugar was in EVERYTHING.  What can I eat that doesn’t have sugar?  Pizza?  No.  Cereal?  Only occasionally and yes, it tastes no different than eating the box.  “Healthy” granola bars?  Are you freakin’ kidding me?  No!  Juice, of any kind?  Absolutely not.  I realized quickly that it was pretty much impossible to eat no sugar and be healthy.  I’m sure there will be people that argue with me about that, but I think you should still have fruit once in a while and fruit has quite a bit of sugar naturally.  Also, I do not want to ingest to many artificial sweeteners.  I doubt that is healthy.  So in this first week, I resigned myself to the idea that I will never again eat candy, dessert or drink soda.  No pizza either but, as you will read later, that changes.  The good news is that you no longer crave those things.  You may want it when you see it, but for the most part, you realize that is a want, not a need and you don’t have to indulge.

During week two, I noticed that I wasn’t as tired during the day.  Probably because my sleep is deeper and better quality.  I don’t toss and turn as often or wake up every two hours like I used to.  In fact, during the 3rd week, I slept straight through the night sometimes.  This may not be amazing to some, but I have never slept through the night unless I was sick or something.  I was a bit perky and hyper during this time period as well.

I think it was week three that I thought I was sweating more than normal and some people do a 21 day sugar detox so maybe I was sweating things out.  I also noticed that I would just keep working and forget to take my lunch because I wasn’t actually hungry yet.  One word of caution here.  When you are not eating sugar and your tank runs out, you are out and need to find food fast.  The alternative is one cranky individual that can no longer function properly.  I was pretty sure I was going to faint in the middle of the Halloween store because I didn’t stop to eat before going in and it was larger than expected.  It was my own fault.  I knew it was past lunch time and that I needed to eat, but wasn’t feeling the hunger pangs yet.  Lesson learned.

Week four and five have been smooth sailing.  No side affects and I’ve discovered that I can make homemade pizza that has much less sugar, but still tastes pretty good.  In the future I may try to make the dough and sauce myself, but for now, I look for marinara with the fewest grams of sugar per serving and pre-made pizza dough from the store.  Also with the lowest grams of sugar, per serving, that I can find.  It’s not ideal, but it’s a nice treat.

If you have tried to stop eating so much sugar or know a great, low sugar recipe for barbecue sauce, feel free to share in the comments.  I would love to hear all about it.

 

My Continued Struggle

It’s been a few months since I decided to deactivate my facebook and spend less time on social media.  Life without facebook has been so much easier than I expected!  I have even noticed that I am proud of not being attached to my phone.  Much like my pride when I quit smoking and drinking.   When you make an effort to improve your way of life, you should be proud of yourself.

Do I occasionally find myself reaching toward the facebook app?  Of course!  Obviously, I should have deleted the app, but I only think about it for a millisecond out of habit and its extremely easy to redirect myself.

How do I keep in touch with my friends?  I don’t.  I realize that may seem harsh, but I’m not really a social person anyway.  I will text people occasionally to make plans, but if I was only keeping in touch by clicking a like button on a picture or meme that you posted, I wasn’t really invested in our interaction anyway.  People think they are, but think about it, how much effort do you really put into liking a post?  Sure, maybe you spent time finding the emoji you think fit the moment best, but its not like you spent the time to put pen to parchment and focus solely on your relationship with this person.  I would love to bring back the days of writing letters but that is a subject for another blog, another day.

What do I do with my extra time?  Everything.  Nothing.  Life is a beautiful thing, try not to miss too much of it.

My Struggle Today

On Sunday, I decided that I should reduce my dependency on social media as a way to waste time until my eventual death.  Because, that’s really what we are doing.  At least that’s what I am doing.  It’s called social media, but it’s not being social when you are ignoring people you are out with in an attempt to be legitimately social.  For me, all social media seems to do is further alienate me.  Before everyone posted their meals, feelings, politics and every other aspects of their daily lives on full volume, I had know idea I was so different from the norm.  The problem is that I am probably not much different than everyone else, just different than everyone that is loud.

I decided my Facebook was what needed to go.  Out of everything I am involved with online, Facebook causes me the greatest stress.  I have never felt that I could really be myself on my own page because so many people that I know are completely different from myself and, if I go by their posts, not interested in accepting other sides.  Not to mention my own limitations of accepting other views.  Not much would get me as angry as a ridiculous political meme.  I’m not against people keeping in touch with their friends and making new friends.  There are some great things that can come from social media, but I am a firm believer in removing any stress that is in your power to remove.  I have always had issues with holding onto stress and need to minimize all the stress I can so bye bye Facebook and hello blogging and the outside world!

Fast forward to today and my Facebook free life.  It sounds great, but as I have discovered, quite difficult to adjust to after years of regularly scrolling through updates or posting pics of the things I find worth sharing.  There were several times that I found myself reaching for my phone or iPad to see what people were up to or if anyone has commented on my lasted posts.  It has been such a struggle to stay on the path.  I know it’s possible to reduce my dependency on social media and I am looking forward to spending more time outside, learning and experiencing the world with my complete attention.  If nothing else, at least I will get to spend more time smelling the roses.