A Party on Every Tab!

Is adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) for real? Or perhaps a myth...or dare I ask - an excuse? I'm not a mental health professional so I won't expand anymore on the technicalities of it but I have to wonder.

When did internet browsers start allowing multiple tabs per session? Sorry, there's no prize for the correct answer - and I'm not going to look it up either 'cause I'm on a roll in here. I am a card-carrying Internet Explorer browser user all the way. The difference in IE 8.0 which now allows multiple tabs when browsing likely kicked any potential ADD-like behavior here into overdrive. This post is not about debating various browsers or which is better or worse either. Hell, I live in Microsoft Ground Zero Land and would likely get a hit put out on me if I said I used anything other than IE! [That's a joke, by the way. Sort of.]

Freeze it! Right now I have six browser tabs open:
- This Blog
- The handbag discussion forum I've written about earlier
- The tab to claim my weekly unemployment benefits online (which I repeatedly have to refresh until I can get in due to overload - yay.)
- Facebook
- The company where I'm working part-time/for free to help a colleague get underway
- Google maps (sshhh, don't tell the nice people at Microsoft)

In extreme cases I would also likely have a local or national news tab open, a job searching site, wikipedia and maybe one of my favorite online shopping sites. But given my Money Diet mode of late I keep that one shut down to avoid temptation.

I swear I could flit back and forth between these tabs all day and then "all of a sudden" it would be 4:00pm and I'm still camped out here in the home office in my old leggings and a flannel shirt - or my Snuggie on cold days. [Side note: the Snuggie rocks. Yeah, I used to be a hater but I got one for Christmas and I'm a believer, people. And no, I don't work for the company.]

It seems like the art of focus and quiet reflection gets brushed off and forgotten these days. Call me crazy but we're expected to multi-task whether at work or play and make decisions at lightning speed. Anyone else feel this way? The speed of life, automation, choices on demand in TV, movies, music, advancements in technology - all of which are amazing and fascinating to me, but I have to remember how to keep myself grounded and not mentally spin out of control.

Thankfully, the gift of self-discipline gets refined over time. Years and years ago in high school our choir director - an absolutely brilliantly gifted man - told us over and over that the most important thing you can have in your life is Self Discipline. Boy was he ever spot on or what. As a 17-year-old you THINK you know what that means but the truth is most barely have an idea of this concept - the brain strains to grasp. Fast forward a couple decades and you "get it." Hopefully much sooner, however.

My most focused time of week? It's Sunday mornings. They're typically very, very still...and sensual. There's minimal street noise outside. Right now it's a little drizzly with grey skies and it feels like a comforting blanket. We've had a mild winter - crocuses are already poking up in my neighbor's yard. I open the front door and the newspaper sits all wrapped up tight in plastic on my doormat like it does every Sunday.

Self-discipline is an ongoing journey for sure. And when the idea of it was introduced to me and my fellow choir members in high school the internet, email, cell phones and all were still 10-15 years out. We were just getting into Call Waiting and VCRs as a reference point. Meaning, nowadays there's so much more "noise" out there to challenge our focus and self-discipline.

What are these multiple browser windows sometimes referred to? One of my friends nailed it the other day. A Time Suck. Meaning, they can suck up your entire day before you know it. So true!

So, last night I practiced self-discipline by not going out with a couple of friends but instead staying in to finish my taxes. Yes, another browser window to open, ha! I knew if I didn't finish them I'd likely procrastinate and then "all of a sudden" it would be early April and crunch time. It felt good to finish. And it will feel even better when that refund hits my bank account. I remember the days I would go to the library to grab a couple extra 1040s, go home and light a couple candles on my kitchen table for ambiance, find a pencil and calculator and do my taxes by hand, plopping the paper in an envelope for the snail mail. Now I can go to a secure website, do a few clicks, verify my info and presto - taxes done and refund on its way in a couple weeks. Wow. Guess that saves a lot of paper and postage for millions of us out there. And, for me...reduces pencil and candle usage.


Why am I doing this again? Blogging re-awakened.

One of my very first posts in here was about my joy of writing which was triggered by a gift of a diary with a lock and key when I was about 11. That gift sprouted and blossomed into a near-without-fail daily diary writing session, usually at night, for about the next six or seven years - all through junior high and high school!

I have a huge appreciation for numbers and data, but my passion leans more towards the written word. I can "do" data analysis and can build a mean pivot table or other somewhat fancy stuff in Excel, but if I had my choice I'd choose Word. Except for the Table wizard feature in Word - pure evil. "Feature" might be too complimentary a way to describe that function.

Anyway, moving on. I hit the gym today as I am trying to get ready to run another 5K later in March. We're back to rain today so it's the treadmill on a 2% incline again with the iPod cranked. This is a big day of football and I had the funny advantage of being able to watch one of the games (with no sound) on the treadmill TV of someone kitty corner to me in the next row up, while I rebelled and had my own treadmill channel on Curling. Yes, Curling. I've never understood the fascination with that game but a few of the guys competing were really hot so it was a nice distraction.

Have you ever become friends with co-workers and promised to keep in touch when one (or both) leaves the company but you just drift apart maybe after chatting on the phone or getting together a couple of times? Somehow the connection was too weak or slippery and it just fades out. Nothing wrong with that - it just happens.

I've been blessed with a couple of rare, treasured friends who through sheer coincidence of working with or near them have inspired me to push myself and really grow through sports - hockey and running, specifically. And through running came...blogging. Perhaps it's more like blogging re-discovered.

D happened to be on a work team right near the office I was in at the time, even though we didn't work together at all. Through her, I got into hockey. And for those of you who know me either in real life or through fivenineteen here, you know how important that outlet is to me. She and I are not in as close of contact as we used to be, but we keep in touch on Facebook. If you're reading this, D, my hugest hugs and thanks to you for asking me that one day back in '03 or so: "...hey, do you want to do this beginner hockey clinic with me?"

P got me into running. She introduced me to a training program called Couch to 5K last year. With a program name like that...well, how can you not help laughing a little? Obviously, it's designed for beginner runners to get their butts off the couch and start running! Oh, and I should mention that P and I used to work at the same company but not in the same group. We just happened to have similar job titles and got acquainted that way. I later got RIF'd from that company, sadly, but P and I promised to keep in touch and we've become great friends even though I haven't worked where she is in over a year and a half. Thank you, P!

The Couch to 5K program is an 8-week plan to get a beginner-level runner jogging about 3 miles (or approximately a 5K), 3 times a week. The first few weeks are short intervals of walking and jogging and the jogging intervals increase week to week. The idea is that it is gradual AND only 3 times a week was a huge plus for me. It's not designed to kill you or leave you frustrated, burnt out or injured.

I started the program last year and on a random whim also started writing in Facebook's Notes section about the C25K plan and my progress week to week. And, I added in a few funny things that had happened along the way, such as getting fitted for new running shoes and having the sales guy freak out at how badly I supinate (roll to the outside when walking), or getting lost trying to find what I thought would be an easy location to meet up with P's Running Club last summer.

To my surprise, people started commenting on my Notes posts in Facebook! I about fell out of my chair in shock! People are actually READING this (and liking it)? And no, no checks were mailed either, ha ha.

After my last work assignment wrapped up in late July I had more time on my hands and started thinking more about getting a full-blown Blog of my own launched. It's definitely possible that had I not been unemployed last summer I might not have been inspired to do this! Now, blogging here is a labor of love and doesn't pay the bills - oh damn a girl can dream but that's another post - but I've had a lot of fun and am surprised how much there is to blab about in here!

So, whether you're here on purpose or sheer accident, welcome - and welcome back. And thanks for your support!

Magical Stillness

Our weather here in the Pacific Northwest typically is grey, damp and rainy, especially this time of year. So when we have dry spells like we've had recently, a local Northwest native like me sits up and celebrates. And then blissfully curls up back into bed with a wonderfully cozy polar fleece blanket and down comforter.

There's something so restful and sensual about weekend mornings without the natural wake up call of rain pounding on the windows and car noise on the streets, not to mention jangling alarm clocks! I woke up today and lingered over coffee while catching up on email and a few blogs I love to follow. Oh, so luxurious. This morning was dry and cold with a thin, grey layer of overcast clouds - not really low enough to be considered fog. And I actually patted myself on the back knowing it was Saturday right when I woke up. Being out of work can toy with the calendar of the mind...I've learned this!

I gain boatloads of inspiration from my window off the home office here. It's just off an arterial that's become noticeably busier now over the past few years I've lived here due to more housing development on top of the hill. Honestly I just embrace it and don't notice the car noise.

My view out this home office window is a mix of trees - evergreen and deciduous - which gives me a somewhat seasonal view of the cul de sac across the way. And today a bird I've never seen before camped out in the leafless tree...bright red head in a roundish, robin-type shape and the body was mostly black with a deep green sheen. I wonder what it is! Larger than a Robin, but smaller than a Crow. Hmmm.

Guess I just noticed the high, overcast, grey skies today and felt a still, calming vibe which really grabbed me. There's so much going on with home projects, job hunting, networking, working pro bono, gym workouts...the list goes on. I have so many things to do - and so many lists scribbled and rewritten. The grey sky reminds me to Chill. Out.


Hot Shinny

We’re all about Beefcake today. Hot hockey players to be exact. I think that old saying “idle hands are the Devil’s workshop” might even be appropriate to throw in here too as an aside.

Yeah, I know, this is a departure from my typical postings. And I should probably apologize in advance to my straight, male readers for I’m not trying to alienate you in any way whatsoever. But please, feel free to keep reading. I promise I won’t tell anyone.

I’ve been a part of a wonderful online forum for over three years where the chitter chatter is mostly about handbags (see my “Hockey and Handbags, Part 2” post for more on that). You might think this would fly in the face of my goal to be more frugal, but honestly I am very content with my bag collection and I don’t need any right now. I might even sell off a couple to get some extra cash. I’ve met quite a few other forum members in real life (those here in the local area) for lunch and shopping several times. It’s just a fabulous community both online and in person.

Now, within that forum is a subforum that’s all about Hockey. I know, it sounds like a weird thing to have a section about hockey on a handbag forum but we’re a delicious, unique slice of the Universe…I dare anyone to find as rare a pairing of two passionate and disparate interests as these within one website.

We chat about our love of the game, our favorite teams, playoffs, who’s injured, who’s rocking the house, stats and standings – just about anything you can imagine. We’re into it so much we had to start up a separate subforum just dedicated to the upcoming Olympics!

So just a few days ago something extra funny happened. I posted something about Alex Burrows (he’s a Center with the Vancouver Canucks) and how he had Hat Tricks two games in a row (that’s 3 goals scored in a game to translate). I added a picture of him to my post and wrote, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, “Hey, ladies [meaning, Burrows speaking here], I got hat tricks two games in a row…anyone up for a little shinny?”

Side note: Shinny is a term for pick up hockey.

After that, the posts started snowballing. We started adding names of other cute hockey players to this shinny lineup. There are women in this forum from all over the country, so no NHL team was forgotten…at least not within our perspective. We kept the roster focused mostly to current NHL’ers but you’ll see later that we made a few exceptions too.

Sigh...in my search for more Hockey hotness I admit I hit a low point. Yes, sadly, oh so sadly, I actually googled "hot hockey players." And even sadder that I got a ton of search results! Most of these are Puckbunny sites...girls who are so obsessed with players some of them probably think they could actually marry one of these guys someday. Ummmm…yeah OK. That's not my thing at all and honestly I didn't agree with a lot of their picks either! Onward.

We put this lineup together in just about 2-3 days. If only other virtual teams I've worked with could collaborate so well!

And in addition to this fine lineup we created I felt it was only fitting to have a letter addressed to these fine gents. So...here goes:

An open letter to the Gentlemen of the Hot Shinny Roster

January 2010

To be a part of this uber special team, all that matters is if you're HOT. And, currently playing in the NHL, but we took some liberty with a few of you because, well, dangit, it's OUR rules and we can break 'em any time we want. That's how we roll. We call the shots.

How do we define hot? Drool-worthy, melt any ice you set your skates upon, set our pants a-fire, make us think dirty thoughts of what we'd like to do to you or you to us kinds of hot. Smoke from our computer monitor, screen lickable hotness. It's OK to rip our clothes off with your teeth and slam us up against a wall kinds of hot. You get the idea.

Here are a few more details. Pay attention.
- We know you have stats but it doesn't matter. We don't give a rat's arse about your +/- or PIMs. If you're hot, you're still in.
- Netminders, we couldn't care less about your GAA or SV PCT.
- Doesn't matter how many Stanley Cups you've hoisted (or not)
- Doesn't matter where you're from or where you play/have played
- Doesn't matter how many Conn Smythe trophies you've won or been nominated for (or not).
- We know some of you are married and some of you are single. We don't care either way. Heck, some of us who picked you are married and some of us are single. One thing's for sure...we're not dead.
- Have you won an Olympic medal or two? None? We don't care.
- Doesn't matter which position you play, although we have taken the utmost of care to ensure a proportional lineup. How? We actually know a thing or two about the game. Yep, that's right. And we have a resident expert amongst us for All Things Hockey. We call her The Commish.

And to counterbalance the Retired Hotness of Mr. Lemieux and Mr. Sakic we felt it necessary to bring in Junior Hotness in Training, e.g. Mr. Duchene. But given the age group of those of us who picked you we put him in Junior Training status. Because let's face it, the guy's only been able to drive for a couple years. And none of us here is named Mary Kay Letourneau. And...none of us wants to serve jail time either.

G: Henrik Lundqvist, Johan "Moose" Hedberg, Kevin Weekes

D: Mark Eaton, Sergei Zubov, Kris Letang, Ron Hainsey, Greg Amadio, Nicklas Lidstrom, John-Michael Liles

C: Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler, Sidney Crosby, Joe Sakic [Emeritus], Mario Lemieux [Emeritus], Matt Duchene [Junior in training], Max Talbot

F: Dan Hinote, Henrik Zetterberg, Alexandre Giroux, Peter Forsberg, Zach Parise, Dave Steckel, Jarome Iginla, Rick Nash, Sergei Federov, Darcy Tucker, David Clarkson, Patrick Sharp

Mascot: Coco

Gentlemen, congratulations.

Oooh and a quick PS: That's Henrik Lundqvist in the picture...Goalie for the New York Rangers. A fine Swedish export if there ever was.

Is it warm in here?


Is it Really This Easy?

I had my last Diet Coke on January 2, 2010 and haven’t had one since. Yep, it’s been a whole week!

You know, I was all excited to write today after a few days without Diet Coke and share all these freaky weird stories about breaking into withdrawal sweats, crushing, pounding headaches and cravings that would make me climb the walls in agony.

But nope, there is absolutely nothing dramatic or exciting to report! Sorry, everyone!

Well, OK there was one funny little thing. I was in the grocery store a couple days ago and out of perhaps sheer kinetic memory I unconsciously pushed my cart toward the 12 packs of sodas – and then stopped myself, giggling a bit. Nope – no more of that! Onward to the 2 liter shelves of sparkling water. I did check labels, and interestingly enough some have sodium and some don’t. Hell, at 79 cents I’ll try one of each! What a bargain. I honestly don’t notice a difference in whether one kind tastes different or makes me feel bloated or not.

I confess I have had a couple of minor caffeine withdrawal headaches but nothing severe. I actually made it through two days with absolutely no caffeine…not even (unsweetened) iced tea. And I do treat myself to a couple cups of coffee late morning or around lunch time. Just with a little splash of skim milk – no cream or sugar here. And it's fun to use my coffee mugs here at home. For not drinking a lot of coffee I’d sure built up a collection over the years! I don’t want to get super hooked on coffee either, but I guess it’s natural, unlike chemical-laden diet sodas, right? Other than that, it’s water all day long, sparkling or still.

Honestly, I don’t miss Diet Coke AT ALL and I struggle to even remember what it tastes like! This is great!

Is it really this easy to just switch off a 20-25 year addiction like a light switch – poof, it’s done? Cold turkey and all? I admit I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. The real test may be if I end up in another work environment where it's available for free, as lots of workplaces do this. I just have to remember how much better I feel now, so why spoil that by restarting the addiction over again?

Have I lost weight? My clothes do feel a little looser but it's only been a week and I'm too chicken shit to get on the scales given the weight I put on the last half of 2009 or so. Believe me, I'm not going to waste away any time soon so dropping a few pounds or at least cutting out some bloat or water weight due to all that soda is a huge win.

I can do this!! I can change habits that have gripped me for nearly half a lifetime and come out better on the flipside! My apologies to the Coca Cola company, but I have consumed far too much of your product for far too long, more than anyone's fair share.

Something tells me they'll survive.

Oh and a PS: I found that super cool question mark graphic via Google and it's by someone who goes by dawnologie. So, just giving credit where it's due - thanks!


Diet Coke Detox...Day 2

Happy New Year, everyone! OK, so it's actually been really FUN talking about my plans to quit drinking Diet Coke (and any diet colas...Diet Coke just happens to be my all time favorite). I'm overwhelmed by the support! I even had a friend ask me on a walk yesterday if I was the type of person who likes to be asked how they're doing on a resolution or goal, or if I don't want to be 'bothered' by that. How thoughtful...I had to think for a minute on how to answer! I guess I just assumed people might ask me about it occasionally since I've been so public about it (here, Facebook, talking with family and friends). And asking about it is just fine with me - I went public to help hold myself accountable!

Today is Day 2, but actually it's been less than 24 hours. I had my last Diet Coke around lunch time yesterday and switched to just plain old water. I do like the bubbles in sodas so I was thinking about getting some sparkling water too, but my sister-in-law said to watch out for sodium in sparkling water, which can make some people feel (ironically) dehydrated! Wow...I honestly have never looked at the labels on water before - good to know! Thankfully, plain "still" water is fine too...I do actually drink a lot of it during the day and at my most recent job - which happened to be in the health insurance industry - EVERYONE drank water all the time. There was usually a small line at the water dispenser in the cafeteria to fill up water bottles! Now THAT was good peer pressure.

So I embarked on my new journey this morning by not cracking open a Diet Coke first thing, but pulling out the coffee maker and grinder. I recently purchased some whole bean coffee from Forza Coffee Company, a coffee I had never heard of until recently. Sadly, the Forza Coffee Company in Lakewood, WA (near Tacoma) is where 4 cops were murdered in late November. I figured purchasing some coffee from there was a small way to honor the 4 and their families, and the business where they were sitting that morning just doing paperwork like they always did on Sundays.

Call me crazy, but the sound of my coffee grinder brings a smile to my face. I use it only on special occasions. A pot of decaf for dinner guests. Or, coffee in the morning when I have a man in my life. So romantic to linger over coffee and the paper together. Sigh, today it's just me. And to throw in an even healthier dose of goodness, I whipped out a bowl of granola and skim milk. Usually it's all I can do to cut off a small hunk of cheddar cheese, brush my teeth, put on lipstick and dash out the door to get to work. But I'm back to full time job hunting, so no more daily commute for awhile.

People have shared numerous stories about quitting Diet Coke, from how it wasn't any big deal, to having severe, fiery withdrawal headaches, screaming and sweats before finally busting through. I am scared, but more excited than scared. If I can get rid of some bloat and extra pounds that have likely crept up as a result of sodas that will motivate me even more to get in the gym and train for my next 5K.

I'm not sure if I believe all the hype going around about Diet Coke and its links to heart disease, or that is causes mutiple sclerosis, leeches calcium out of the bones and on and on. I do know that whenever those emails get fired up they end up in my inbox, as my friends often send those "reports" my way. I guess diet sodas are nothing but chemicals, and all those chemicals can't be good and have zero nutrition, so they aren't any benefit for sure!

You know what I hate about coffee? Coffee breath. Yuck. Any ideas on how to combat this other than brushing teeth and chewing gum please let me know.

And there are so many more goals ahead for 2010: 5K training, weight loss, finding a new job...wondering, wishing that the pro bono work I've been doing could really take off and turn into something great (and paying for the entire team!). We've now got shared office space in a great location, so we're moving on from having meetings in the library!

I will continue to post about how the Diet Coke detox is going, good, bad and ugly. Now, where did I put my water cup...and Motrin?