The Pros and Cons to a life of Convenien

The Pros and Cons to a life of Convenien

One of the things that drove me nuts about Spain when we first moved here is how … difficult… everything seems to be. Some examples that still seem baffling to me:

There is no garbage pickup. You take your trash and recycling to these bins strategically stationed every few kilometers in the countryside, and every few blocks in the cities.

The garbage people empty fewer bins, though they’re large. The problem with this is that your car gets stinky while transporting your garbage, and sometimes it leaks. Gross.

Also, you have to, you know, get out of your car, and walk amongst broken glass and cardboard that wouldn’t fit in the paper recycling bin, and dump your stuff manually. Also, there are dogs hanging around those bins. It just doesn’t seem very nice. But no one questions it. It’s how you do it. You drop your garbage off every time you leave the house. No biggie.

I should say that it’s nice not having stinky garbage in your house, on the deck, or in the garage for a week before trash day. That’s one positive. But overall, it seems like an extra step for people to remember, and it seems needlessly difficult.

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Shopping. Shopping here is insane. To start with, most things close for siesta, between 2 and 5. So if it’s 3pm and you want to go buy a lipstick, you’re out of luck. Can’t do it. All of the shops are also incredibly segmented.

Like it must have been before the advent of shopping malls and Big Box Stores. You buy your fruit from the fruiteria. You buy your ibuprofen at the farmacia. Seriously, you can’t buy ibuprofen at the grocery store. You want ibuprofen? You go to the farmacia. Separate stop, separate parking, separate getting the kiddo out of the carseat, separate getting the kiddo back in the carseat. For some stupid ibuprofen.

Those are just two of the dozens of things I’ve noticed here in Spain that make daily life a little more difficult. Look, it’s not going to kill anyone that they have to make two separate stops to get some ibuprofen, or that they have to take their garbage themselves. It just seems needless. Why?

Yet the flip side is that the people here are much fitter, they cook their meals more (you can’t really get ready-to-heat-up meals at the grocery stores here), they walk around more, they are more active.

And in the 2 years I’ve spent living here, I’ve become more like that, too. I cook our meals from scratch. I don’t just pull off some film and stick something in the oven. I chop, I mix. I walk from shop to shop. When I’m back home, I stare in wonderment at the ease with which Americans live their lives. Drive-thru ATM’s! Drive-thru pharmacy pickups! CVS shops that are bigger than our grocery store! Being able to buy children’s cold medicine at the same place I buy spinach! Salad bars with washed veggies that you put into containers to take home!

My GOD, the ease with which Americans live their lives! Being able to go to one store and buy clothing, eye drops, an iPad, diapers, and cereal! My GOD. There are entirely separate stores here that just sell electrical appliances. You want a new toaster? You go there.  

Life in America is geared towards being easy. Being convenient. Making things easy for the consumer. Removing any obstacles to purchasing. It makes me wonder about the sense of “entitlement” that people say Americans have. We expect things to be easy, and when they’re not, we often give up.

As a result, it’s easy to become lazy. To not want to take the stairs. To expect people to bag your groceries for you.

Neither way is better. But I am starting to come around to see the benefits of not having things so easy. Having to work a bit more. Having to take a few more steps.

Decluttering Chronicles (aka the Life.Reboot through Less Crap) Part 2: The Green Eyelash Curler

Decluttering Chronicles (aka the Life.Reboot through Less Crap) Part 2: The Green Eyelash Curler

Ahhh, dear Eyelash Curler. You represent so much of the person I often wish I was. The person who knows how to be trendy, who understands how to do her nails, who showers every day even with a young kiddo.

But instead, you remind me of the person I actually am. The one who spent hours as a teenager reading Seventeen Magazine, learning the best way to use a crimper in her hair, and yet could never manage a look any more sophisticated than a mix between Chewbacca and Cindy Lauper on Celebrity Apprentice. The girl who understood intellectually how to fold up her trouser legs and match layers of neon socks in the perfect way to complement her jelly bracelets, and yet could never manage anything beyond a walking frumpy cotton candy machine explosion.

Ah, eyelash curler. I loved you for the simple elegance you promised. Spend a moment in the morning, and you would be set for the day. Maybe apply a lashing of mascara, and boom, done. Just like Gwyneth Paltrow advised.

But I could never figure out your physics. How am I supposed to hold you without poking out my eye? And I can’t wear mascara without it clumping, or even worse, getting underneath my eyes, making the tired bags underneath them look overstuffed.

No, lovely green eyelash curler, I’m afraid you have to go. Even though I love what you represent, even though I love the person I think I would be if I used you, I love the present me even more, and I don’t like the way you make me feel bad about myself. Like I’m incompetent and bumbling. I love who I am enough to separate the me I am from this fantasy me who would use you.

So, green eyelash curler, into the bin you go.

The Specifics of my Body Love Reboot

The Specifics of my Body Love Reboot

I’ve been fighting with my weight since I was about 13. That’s nearly 30 years of fighting with myself over food. And I’m so. freaking. tired of it. So tired. So tired of worrying about what I ate. Feeling bad about what I ate. Then feeling like shit because I ate too much. Having a sugar headache. A diet coke headache. Feeling like crap generally.

I’m sick of bargaining with myself. Eat this cake now, then just eat veggies for the rest of the day (never happens). Be good today, then you get to eat chocolate tomorrow.

I’m sick of being afraid of the scale. I’m sick of being scared every time I go to the doctor that they’re going to tell me that I have diabetes. I’m sick of being afraid of my own body.

I’m sick of justifying it. Heather, you should love yourself no matter how big you are, I tell myself. That’s true. It’s also not particularly helpful in terms of ensuring that I live a long life and get to see my grandchildren grow up. Especially since I didn’t have a kid until 37.

The ultimate form of loving myself would be to treat my body with honor.

To put good food in it that nourishes it. To recognize that my body is the vehicle that makes the rest of my life possible, and to treat it the way I would treat a great car that got to take me everywhere I wanted to go.

It occurs to me that I treat my cars better than my body.

I wash them regularly (as a mompreneur with a young child I literally need to schedule in showers, and sometimes they get postponed). I put good petrol in them. I get the oil changed. I run them regularly. I treat my Ford Cmax better than I treat my own body.

Part of that is because of all the psychological crap we have associated with bodies. Our bodies, ourselves and all that. It’s easier to take care of a car when it’s not distracting you with chocolate cravings.

But all of these things – the diet coke addiction, the sugar addiction, eating without even thinking about it – they’re all habits. And habits were learned. There was a time before I craved sugar. I’m not sure that I can even remember it, but I know it was there. I didn’t come out of the womb craving chocolate.

Ten days ago I started a Body Love Reboot, and I have lost 5 of the 50 pounds I want to lose. But even better, as far as I’m concerned, my sugar cravings are way down. Fruit actually tastes sweet to me. And when I tried to have cake on my birthday, I was able to have just a few bites, and then put it down.

Somehow, in the past ten days, I have come a long way towards treating my body the way I know it should be treated.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  • Religiously logging every piece of food that goes into my body
  • Eating a lot of really healthy food, thereby not leaving enough room for the stuff that isn’t as great
  • Drinking a ton of water

That’s all I’ve been doing for now. The results I’ve had, in ten days, are:

  • Five pounds lost
  • I haven’t had a diet coke in 2 weeks
  • I feel so much more energized

So in terms of food, I’m still eating more sugar than I’d like. I start every morning off, before breakfast when I first wake up and do my Morning Pages, with a cup of instant cappuccino, which is nothing besides sugar. I make myself an iced mocha at breakfast with chocolate syrup. I also put sugar on my oatmeal. And throughout the day I will likely have something else sugary. It’s a work in progress. The goal is to lower the amount of sugar I have, not totally get rid of it. Progress, not perfection.

For breakfast I have an egg white omelette with spinach and zucchini, and a bit of cheese. I also have oatmeal, and the aforementioned iced mocha. And some kind of fruit like berries in the oatmeal. Breakfast is the most structured of my meals, and it never really changes.

The other food that I have eaten every day since I started this is a smoothie made from frozen strawberries, spinach, with chia and flaxseed, and water. It actually is a lot better than it sounds. I was nervous about it the first time, but I can say hands down, it’s amazing.

Those are the major changes I’ve made over the past ten days, and what I’ve accomplished with them. The first thirty days of any change in habits are the hardest, and I know that I’m not over that hump where this becomes second nature to me yet, and so I am very vigilant about it.

Here’s to being satisfied with more wonderful things and less crappy things. I know that applies to me in many areas of my life, not just food.

The Decluttering Chronicles Part 1: The Scrunchie

The Decluttering Chronicles Part 1: The Scrunchie

I’m starting out my Life.Reboot by Decluttering. So many Wise Women have talked up the life changing art of the Mindful Declutter, which is both a physical and emotional cleansing.

We moved to Spain almost 2 years ago, and only brought 2 suitcases each with us. Before that time I did a massive Declutter as we were getting the house at home ready to rent out. But somehow (IKEA. Hipercor) we have managed to amass more shit (toys, clothes, makeup) than I ever dreamt we would in a “temporary” move.

And so, I’m getting Ruthless again. I’m convinced that the reason I lost my phone yesterday is because I carry around too much shit, I am trying to watch a 3 year old, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Not only do I carry around Too Much Shit, but I have Too Much Shit in my home. BabyGirl has Too Many Toys and Too Much Crap.

So we’re paring down.

First thing to go – this scrunchie I got while feeling very nostalgic about the 90’s.

I saw it at the store, I think maybe The Proclaimers were playing in the background, and I thought, “damn, you know what would make my Mom Ponytails look really young and fresh? A scrunchie. Like the kind I wore in high school. Maybe I’ll dig out my Grunge Flannel Shirts, and be all moody and stuff. I’ll talk about Nafta earnestly as if I have any understanding of what it actually is, and smoke clove cigarettes on the hood of my Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra behind a Kmart store.

All of that will be possible with This Grey Scrunchie. So much depends on a Grey Scrunchie.

Only it didn’t.

Farewell Grey Scrunchie. You graced my wrist twice, and held my ponytail in place two or three times. Beyond that, you just sit there. Reminding me that I’m not 16, and Bill Clinton isn’t still president.

To the Goodwill Bin you go.

The Night Before You Turn 41, and you’re like, “Jesus…”

The Night Before You Turn 41, and you’re like, “Jesus…”

Actually, it’s 12:35, so I suppose I’m turning 41 today. When on earth did that happen? How did that happen? How am I still carrying around these extra 60 pounds?

How am I still not the Magical Whimsical Grown Up I always thought I’d be by this age?

Today I lost my phone in a C&A in the La Canada mall in Marbella. I had it literally one moment, and somehow it just disappeared. A few weeks ago I lost my car keys in an IKEA, which is an extremely inconvenient place to lose car keys when you don’t have a spare hidden under the car in a little magnet box.

I may be getting early onset dementia, or it could be that I’m a sleep deprived mother of an energetic 3 year old who carries way too much shit in her bag because it’s some kind of security blanket thing that dates back 35 years to when nobody would sit with her at the lunch table and she had to look super preoccupied in order to comfort herself that it was really okay. Me, not my daughter, that is.

I’m not sure what the hell is going on with this Being a Flustered Grownup Who Can’t Evan Seem to Shower Everyday, but I’m reclaiming my time. This is my time, dammit, and I’m not going to let another year slip by without doing something about this shit.

This year is the year I will declutter, I will grasp motherhood and quit beating myself up for screen time. I will cook actual food, I will have bonding time with my child (in lieu of screen time sometimes). I will meditate sometimes, and not stress when I don’t. And I will fit into a size 14, which I haven’t managed to do in 20 years.

Welcome to 41.

The Entrepreneurial Chronicles

The Entrepreneurial Chronicles

I’ve been quiet the past couple of weeks. It’s not intentional – it’s because I’ve been launching a product, and given that it’s the first product I’ve ever launched (other than my books) it’s been such a journey, both personally as well as logistically.

Last year I had the idea to create a Tudor Planner. It would essentially be a weekly and monthly day planner with filled with Tudor history, music suggestions, and quotes. The idea occurred to me too late in the year to do anything about it, and so it went into the pile of good ideas that I never developed.

It came back to me about a month ago, and I thought, “hey, I should figure out how to make one of these.” At first I played around with using Excel or Word, and realized that wasn’t going to work at all, and so I downloaded InDesign. I know nothing about InDesign at all, and so I watched YouTube tutorials, teaching myself.

The result is that I now have a Tudor Planner available for sale. I’m using Blurb for Print On Demand, and I’ve launched with Facebook ads, as well as getting a reseller through one of my partners, Tudor Times.

It’s been a long road figuring out how the design works, getting a cover created, figuring out the Blurb template, creating the website, the website for the PDF download, etc.

And it’s been such a journey of removing my own money blocks, seeing where I am afraid, and overcoming that.

In the past 11 days since the Facebook ads have been up, I’ve been thrilled with the sales, which is also scary because the sheer work of fulfilling these orders is daunting. But I’m moving forward with it, and it’s opening up a whole new chapter in my life. The Facebook ads are having a happy side effect which is that my mailing list signups are increasing exponentially. I had just expected people to go to the site and buy (or not) a Tudor Planner. Turns out many of them aren’t buying right now, but are signing up for my mailing list, which is really exciting.

This is really short, but it beats nothing, and I just want to document where I’m at right now which is excited, feeling like I’m on the verge of something new and exciting, and simultaneously really frightened, having to step into something bigger than I’ve known before.

Weight Loss Project Check In

Weight Loss Project Check In

The past few days have been weird. Hannah is sick again. Sigh. The joys of preschool, I guess. But she should be well enough to go back to school tomorrow, which will give me more time, and let me get back into my routine. Yesterday we all slept in until 12:30 because she’d been up all night throwing up. So much for routine. Double sigh.

Anyway, my weigh in was yesterday. My goal was to get to 214 by the end of the month, setting me up for 206 in November, and under 199 by the end of the year. 2017 is the year in which I will finally start out the year with a 1 in front of my weight for the first time since 2002. In Weight Watchers they call it One-derland. I will be in One-derland by the end of the year. No joke.

So I was thrilled to weigh in at 214.4 yesterday, a week ahead of schedule. It struck me as odd, though, because I haven’t been eating very well. I’ve still been eating chocolate every day. I did find a sugar free hot chocolate powder to make my beloved iced mochas in the morning, so that saves me 4 of my 32 daily WW points, but I’ve made up for it with the chocolate truffles that are now available for Christmas at Aldi.

I think the difference is that I haven’t actually been eating that much. I just haven’t been that hungry lately. When hubby goes to his AA meetings in the evening, I generally don’t make dinner for just Hannah and I, making her something instead, and drinking a hot chocolate made with milk, or something similar instead.

The upshot is that I’ve lost weight. The downside is that I’m still not developing a particularly healthy relationship with food. The scale is going down, which is great, but I know there’s more to it than simply the number. I have to come to peace with food.

Maybe the fact that I’m not hungry so much is a start in that direction, though. I’m trying to be grateful for it, and not argue against it. Maybe this is a sign that I’m not seeking solace through food as much anymore. Maybe this means that I’m just trying to use food for what it’s designed; an enjoyable way to fuel my body. And maybe I need to come back to a center of some sort which includes a few truffles, but also includes healthy things.

Whatever the reason, my trousers are loose, and I can see the possibility of going shopping for new jeans at the after Christmas sales. I’m down 15 pounds since starting WW at the end of July, and I’m excited to reach a monthly goal for the first time in years.

I wish I had something more profound to say about my weight loss this week other than simply saying I’m not hungry. Whatever it is, I’ll take it.