Thursday, December 31, 2009

An Ode to 2009

Twas the night before Jan first, two thousand and nine, A voice deep within me said things aren't so fine, I knew it was time to make changes and fast, So I made resolutions and vowed past was past. Not sure what was needed, I thought and I thunk, One thing I knew surely, my life was a funk. The world was evolving, leaving me far behind, Social media took hold, it's what I would find. I joined Facebook and Linked In and started to Tweet, And old friends appeared in my life - it was sweet. Writing this blog got my creative juices flowing, Not long after that, my weight loss got going. The recession had put my business on hold, So I figured it time to make change, make it bold. The offer I got came out of the blue, It almost seemed really too good to be true. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I accepted their offer, sent my business south. Rejoining the work world, employed by another, Took bravery and compromise, now I'm one busy mother. The gains have been many, The losses much less, Life as I once knew it, Is history I guess. The changes I made in my bod, hair and work, Have bettered the Debra that here used to lurk. Two thousand and nine and the change that was great, Has been more than welcome, not a moment too late. So I say unto others, go boldly, go forth, Resolve to be different, Make changes for growth. You'll never regret it, change makes life more exciting, Get out of your slump, live your life 'stead of dying. Always remember, this quote I've loved dearly, Life's no dress rehearsal, now I see that more clearly. To you and to yours, Happy New Year, be healthy, May 2010 find you happy and wealthy. Whether you measure your wealth in dollars and cents, Or if success in your mind means something more, May this be your year, May you shoot, may you score!

How was your path to 2010?

Check back here for my year in review tomorrow. Cheers! Decomama

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Forget the sugar plums and pass the Almonds please

And another one bites the dust. Christmas 2009 is over. This year was a bit of a departure from the last few years as I was unable to devote the full-on "Martha" approach as I have in the past, and "lo and behold", everyone survived! There are not several tins of leftover baking sitting around for another week that would slowly but surely be devoured by New Years. That's a positive thing for my waistline. In fact, now that I think about it, I don't recall EVER fitting in a work-out on Christmas Day in my life, but this year I did. While sugar-plums were still dancing in their heads (my daughter & husband), I was in the hotel gym, all by my lonesome, ipod blasting, sweating off the mashed potatoes and gravy before I had even lifted a fork to my mouth. Even after I indulged later that day at my mothers, I noticed I could still hold my abs in without too much effort and I didn't feel like I wanted to lay down and die after dinner. My plate was full, and I even had an extra helping of my mother's famous cole slaw and a second scoop of turkey dressing, so it's not like I didn't eat more than usual. I did. But then I stopped. I ignored the cookies, the chocolates and the ice cream. That would have surely sent me over the edge. And that has been my secret weapon all year this year. The elimination of sugar. White death. It has never agreed with me. I have always known it. This year I finally came to terms with my addiction and said adios to my personal poison and I feel soooo much better having done it. Now I have the rare indulgence versus the daily affair I used to have with my evil nemesis and the results have been welcome. Whoever coined the phrase "have a treat" when referring to sugar had it all wrong. It is not a treat when it lands on your ass in the form of fat, which it inevitably does. And sugar's close cousins - pasta, bread and potatoes are happy to land there too, so I have reduced my relationship with them as well. I still eat them, but in smaller quantities and less often. I have adapted the "deck of cards" theory with protein too. Any meat or fish or poultry is fine, as long as it does not exceed the size of a deck of cards. Everything else is up for grabs. I eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, foods with healthy fats like avocados, olives, nut butters and even the occasional saturated fat like butter on popcorn. It's all in the choices I make. It only took a couple of weeks of sugar withdrawal before I no longer craved it. It still tempts me from time to time, but if I cannot resist, I have one or two bites of a dessert or one piece of chocolate and move on. I know if I have more, I won't feel good and that is what keeps me in check. It will be nice to start the new year without the added 5-7 lbs I normally would. Instead of resolving to lose weight this year, I will resolve to maintain my weight and improve my fitness level. Now, if I can just find that fountain of youth, I'm all set.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

You can open ONE tonight!

One present on Christmas Eve. That was the rule in my house growing up. But which one? My brother and I would scan the pile under the tree. The gifts from Santa would not be there yet of course, but there were still plenty to choose from aunts and uncles and grandparents. God forbid you should choose a box that contained clothing or something you couldn't actually play with. In the early years, Christmas Eve meant visits from relatives, Bing Crosby crooning on the record player, a good soak in the tub, my hair curled into rollers for church the next day and the ONE GIFT. I recall choosing a couple of duds - some game I had never heard of or new pajamas, so each year I became more selective until I learned eventually that there was one gift I could always count on to please me. Christmas Eve always warranted a visit from Great Uncle Ken and Aunt Laura. I was in awe of them. They were childless and rich. (compared to us anyway). They never bothered with toys. They would come bearing gifts with cold hard cash attached to them. And not coins or one dollar bills. Initially there would be a fiver attached, then as years passed it became a ten, and then years later it became American greenbacks (they spent the winters in Florida). They would attach these crisp bills to a nice gift pack of Laura Secord Chocolate and sometimes there would be a little trinket mixed in with the candy. Once I got a little faux gold chain bracelet with small carved wooden mice charms attached. They had little leather ears glued to them. I loved it. I know five or ten dollars doesn't seem like much, but in 1963, it was a small fortune in my mind. I would spend days dreaming about how I would spend it. I recall one year when I was about 10, taking that money and buying my first LP - Herman's Hermits - There's a Kind of Hush...all over the world tonight. You remember the song...I hope. (If you don't, you're too young to be reading this blog). Their gift provided not only a good tooth-rotting experience, but the opportunity to spend the rest of the evening dreaming. Laura Secord chocolate was a treat back in those days before more upscale candy companies like Godiva arrived on the scene here in Canada. I even recall being impressed with how it would be presented, all wrapped in cellophane and ribbon. Not your everyday penny candy. And there would always be a good quality candy cane in the middle - not like the crappy ones that hung all over the Christmas tree, a solid jaw-breaking stick that could last for days if you stuck it back in the wrapper when you tired of sucking on it. My daughter continues the same tradition, except in our case she gets to open one gift on the 23rd because in recent years since the Santa myth has been shattered, we open our gifts after dinner on Christmas Eve. That way everyone gets to sleep in on Christmas morning and we have more time to get ready to make our way back to my childhood town and my parents house for dinner. She will have Godiva chocolate in her stocking and her monetary gifts will far surpass the five or ten dollars that so impressed me as a child. I wonder what she will have to say about it all when she reaches my age and if her memories will be as precious to her as mine are to me. Time will tell.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

This one REALLY missed the mark!

Last night I was painfully reminded why it is a bad idea to see a movie over the holiday season. Not one for line-ups, I put my aversion aside and lined up. The problem with that was, I lined up for an utterly lame movie as all the movies I am interested in seeing right now don't get released on the big screen until Christmas Day. My daughter was in the mood for a night out with mom however, so I said, "pick something we will both like or something we will at least agree upon". She had already seen Avatar last weekend, so she suggested some flick starring Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker. I had seen a trailer or two, and it looked mildly amusing, so off we went to see Did you Hear about the Morgans?. I do consider myself a bit of a movie buff, but I am no expert. I often like movies that have been panned by the critics and I tend to like sappy romantic comedies that are generally never considered Oscar worthy. Based on what I knew of this flick, I figured it would fall into the SRC category. I liked the actors and it was an SRC, so what did I have to lose? For starters, Hugh and Sarah was a bit of a stretch from the get-go. Separately, they are great, together, not so much. She has never been able to move beyond her role as Carrie in Sex and the City, and Hugh has finally reached an age where his boyish bumbling is completely unconvincing. I could see the pessimism behind his (now wrinkled) eyes and he seemed to be almost tortured at even having to be on a movie set instead of the golf course where he apparently now spends most of his time. The script was so pathetic, I wondered what failing film school student had written such crap. It was written and directed by Marc Lawrence (remind me to find out his credentials and NOT send my daughter to the same school). Twenty minutes in, I was nodding off as there was nothing to keep me interested, much less engrossed. There was zero chemistry between the lead characters and even less chemistry between the couple that were supposed to represent true love (Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen). Like I said, on a good day, any of these actors can pull off a decent performance, but this was quite obviously not a good day for any of them. I started getting restless leg syndrome about 3/4's of the way through this one and it was all I could do to actually finish watching this sad attempt at film-making. The premise of the film was two native New-Yorkers, a separated couple, (Sarah and Hugh) witness a murder and are forced into a witness protection program and sent to some small town in Wyoming where the city-slickers are faced with life in the country. The cliches abounded and there was not a single unpredictable moment in the entire movie. Even the mildly amusing lines were delivered poorly by Grant and Parker. I would have preferred staying home and watching old Sex and the City episodes or any of my collection of great Hugh Grant movies. In fact, it is just about time to pull out Love Actually - a Christmas tradition in our house. Just cover up the kiddie's eyes in the odd scene and you're good to go. Don't line up for this one folks. No need to hear or know anything about the Morgans. Trust me.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

This Year, she came Back

Christmas cards. Lavish light displays. Over the top interior Holiday Hall Decking. Christmas Baking. Chopping down your own tree. Christmas Open Houses. I used to do all these things. Now they are a distant memory. Welcome to the world of full time work. I admit it. I am incapable of "doing it all". For those of you who are - well - you are better time managers than I. How the hell do you do it? Maybe by next year I will figure it all out. In addition to my new job, I also decided 2009 was a year of shifting priorities. I decided to make myself a priority. Doing that has meant that many of the things I used to dwell upon, like my house, my garden and my family take a back seat to my attention to my health and fitness. So now my house is messy, my garden is full of weeds, my Christmas decor is a half-assed effort, there isn't a single fattening Christmas cookie in the Santa cookie jar and my Christmas cards might not arrive until the New Year. Will the world come to an end? Will my family starve without chocolate macaroons or pecan shortbread? Will my friends suffer from open house withdrawal? The obvious answer is no, no and no. But I will likely live longer, look better and I do feel 10 years younger. Despite how difficult it has been for me to shift the priorities, I am pretty sure my new "to do" list will be the better path for me, my family and my friends. The old Deb is back and she likes it. Hope you all do too.

Friday, December 18, 2009

I'll settle for a two-pack

So I was just about to step on the treadmill to work off last night's party and figured I would take a minute to blog a weight update. As we all know, this is the absolute hardest time of the year to stick to a healthy eating plan, but last night was the last official Christmas Party I have been invited to with the exception of Christmas Day at my mothers, so I think I can safely say I made it through without too much damage. I just stepped on the scale and I am up two pounds. Not bad considering I have five fetes under my belt. As one friend's husband once said, "that's nothing more than a good dump". Crass as that sounds, he is not far off. I prefer to sweat them off and with any luck, I may be back in fighting form by Sunday. Just picked up a copy of a magazine I have never read - Oxygen, a women's fitness magazine. If the women in this rag don't inspire you, nothing ever will. I haven't seen that many female six-packs in one place in my life! I thought I was looking OK until I flipped through this collection of photos. I used to think buff and pumped up women looked almost alien, but these gals look hot. If I could even get half way to where they are, I would be ecstatic. A two or four pack maybe. They make it seem possible. However, upon closer inspection, I noted that the majority of the ads in this magazine are for over the counter weight loss pills, protein powders and concoctions I didn't even know existed. Surely steroid use is common in this crowd as well. One product called MPower claims to be the "only supplement designed to immediately stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis - a natural "energizing" process that burns fat and increases energy. Wow - send me a case of it! The woman in the photo is a mass of tanned muscles - surely a result of quaffing back this stuff every day. Yeah right - and 4 hours a day in the gym. The ad doesn't mention that though. I didn't know it existed, but apparently there are women who work as "fitness models". That's right. They are used exclusively for these types of ads and so that is their job - to look fit and tanned and muscled for a living. Well, shit, I could look like that if I had all that time to spend in the gym every day too. It's like the winners on the Biggest Loser. They spend 6-8 hours working out every day - who wouldn't lose weight rapidly? As it is, I struggle to find an hour a day for my fitness regimen. I'm down to 2 hours a week of tennis and golf is now just a pleasant memory until next spring. I could do more I suppose, but when would I find time for the rest of my life? When is what we are finally good enough? I'll let you know when I figure that out.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sparkly, pretty and Utterly Useless

I found them! I finally found them! I have been through 10 large plastic bins, at least 8 cardboard boxes, every bloody drawer in the house and tonight I found them. Why I put them in the hanging mesh pocket of an over the door closet organizer, I will never know. Apparently by the time I bought them last January, I had already stowed the boxes and bins away for the season and it seemed like the most likely place for them. God knows what I was thinking. I guess I was just looking for a slot they would fit in, so it never occurred to me that come Christmas 2009, I would have zero memory of where I put them. I only knew that I had purchased them. I remembered it clearly. I was at the R.O.M. for a belated birthday lunch last January with my dear friends Margot and Janet and we did a little browse through the museum gift shop after lunch at C-5 and a peek at the "Diamond Exhibit" and it was late enough in the month for them to have marked them down by 75% - a steal for sure. Usually if you wait that long into the after- Christmas sales, there's nothing left but garish coloured lights no one wanted or boxes of glass ornaments with at least one broken bauble, like a cracked egg among a dozen, but these beauties were still hanging around - literally. They were perfect. The most realistic icicles I had ever seen. Heavy, long, crystal clear - you could almost see the drops of melting ice water dripping from them. A pretty sparkle of silver dust capped the tops and they hung from delicate little strings - I had a picture in my mind immediately where they would hang. There were only five left and I scooped up every last one of them - odd numbers being the ideal grouping for the scene I had conjured up in my mind for Christmas 2009. My plan was to hang them outside on either side of the front door, in the recesses of the side lights, 2 on one side and 3 on the other to form an asymmetrical display of fake winter chill. I would hang them at slightly different heights to add to the realism. Normally this would have been done a couple of weeks ago when I hung the wreath on the door and filled the urns with greenery and hung the lights, but since they were MIA until tonight, they will have to be a late addition to the holiday decor at the front door. Or maybe not. Now that I have unwrapped them and revisited them, I find them so pretty and sparkling, I am afraid that if I hang them outside, the wind and sun and weather will wreak havoc on them and ruin them. I could hang them inside, but then they would look like fake icicles, and they really do look so real they deserve their chance to fool the world. So, I guess I will take the chance, allow mother nature to have her way with them and with any luck they will last the season looking like their real counterparts. In any case, they will last longer than the real thing would and I will enjoy seeing them glistening at the front door when I come home every night. With the price I paid, I suppose they are disposable if need be and it will be one less thing for me to pack away until Christmas 2010. Besides, if I don't hang them outside - what else would I do with them? Things like this fit into the "utterly useless" category if you don't use them when they should be used. I suppose I could keep one in the car glove box if I ever needed to defend myself - their weapon-like shape and pointed tips would be enough to scare off any would-be attacker. They are almost too heavy to hang on the average Balsam or Fraser fir, so that's out of the question. So, it is decided - these utterly useless spikes of icy acrylic will hang at my front door, useless and beautiful like so many other shiny baubles that have come before them until it is time to go into hiding for another year. At least next year, I will be able to find them. Maybe.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Visions of Overalls Danced in her Head

"I see television - you talking on television and I see Mike Holmes. You are either working with him or for him or something along those lines - but you are definitely on TV." That was one of the many things a psychic told me at a reading last week. I asked her if it was really Mike Holmes or just someone who looked like him. She insisted it was actually him, so I said, "Well, I'm not sure how that will all pan out, but maybe if he loses the overalls." Seriously, what's up with that Mike? It was kind of novel in the beginning, but they must be getting a bit tiresome by now, no? Time to change things up a bit I'd say - how about a simple pair of Levi's, a black concert T-shirt from that Stone's concert you went to in the 70's and a tool belt hanging loosely around your waist? ANYTHING but the damn overalls! Mike, you need a wardrobe consultant. Hey, maybe that will be my association with him. I will appear on his show, and I will do a wardrobe makeover for him in between drywall mudding and grout applications. Yeah, yeah, I know I am an "interior" decorator, not an "exterior" decorator, but once you have an eye for design, it can pretty much cover the gamut of all things tasteful, and clothing design and interior design go hand in hand in my mind. So, I'll make the offer once Mike, right here, just so it's official, any time you are ready for a little consult, you just give me a call and we'll talk. Or lunch. Maybe we can do lunch and really hash things out. But please don't come in your overalls. They don't go with sushi. (that's what I want for lunch - just so you know.) And, will the next psychic I see please tell me she sees me on television with George Clooney or Hugh Jackman or .....well you get the picture - no offense Mike.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Did you do your Homework?

I'm thinking if I had known that having a child would entail having to repeat Kindergarten through grade eight again, I may have re-considered. I hated school the first time around and I have zero desire to go through it again. Now that my daughter is in her second year of high school, I figured I was off the hook in the "homework help" department, but Noooooo - not yet mama! Don't get me wrong, I love my kid - would lay down and die for her if I had to, but I draw the line at coming home from a long day at work and going back in time to the days of book reports and essays and science projects. I have been there. Done that. Don't want to do it anymore. I already handed in all that crap once. I already procrastinated until the night before a deadline. I already hung my head in shame when the teacher handed me back a lousy mark. I don't need to go through it again now. Why should I have to? I pay good money for my kid to go to school. I am not a teacher. I never wanted to be a teacher. Truth be known, I am not a very good teacher. I am impatient and uninterested in most of the subject matters. I could care less about periodic tables, trigonometry or geological rock formations. I learned it and forgot it once and have no desire to go down that particular road of higher learning again. I can tolerate anything to do with English literature, drama or classic American novels, but she doesn't seem to need so much help with that stuff. Go figure. I recall my own mother helping me ONCE in my life with homework. It was in grade 4. I had to make a plaster of Paris map of South America on a sheet of Bristol board. She helped me mix the goop, trace the outline of the continent and make little flags out of paper and toothpicks with the name of each country on them. After all that, she had to help me carry it to school so it would not crumble into a million pieces. It was bright green and showed the mountain ranges in elevated points like stiff egg whites form a peak after you beat them long enough. I thought it was a masterpiece. She probably hated every minute of the project and couldn't wait until it was done. Bet she even cursed the teacher who assigned it for months after. She had it easy. Just the one. I have had more than my fair share of these "projects" over the years. The styrofoam solar system, the aboriginal long house made meticulously out of little twigs and sticks cut down to size from our own trees and shrubs, complete with little people and animals wandering through the village. Or how about the power point presentation of the history of Astronomy? That was several nights when I could have been doing something I LIKED doing. It begs the question, will she stop needing my help by the time she is in university? Please - tell me it won't be so. What have we done to our kids? Can they do nothing on their own? I did it all by myself. No one helped me. Sure, I may have scored some higher grades if I had enlisted some help, but I managed somehow, didn't I? And...the money! Every project seemed to require a trip to the craft supply store for endless supplies that would never be used more than once. What happens when families on tight budgets can't afford these extravagant trips to Mastermind or Scholar's Choice? Heaven help we could make something out of flour, water and food colouring - all things we have on hand in the average kitchen. That would be far too simple. No wonder "parenting" has become a verb. We do way more than our parents did. The only time my parents got involved in my homework was when they would occasionally ask - "Did you do your homework?" Yes, I would lie. All done. That was it. They never asked to see it, review it with me, quiz me on dates, names or places. Their only job was to ask if we had done it. It was up to us to face the consequences of poorly thrown together assignments or missed deadlines. It prepared us for the real world. It prepared us for life. We may want to re-think our motives and stop the helicopter blades. We aren't doing them any favours. That much I know for sure.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Bloom is not off this Rose

For the first time in many years I am heading into the Christmas season with a little room under my belt for the dreaded extra 5 pound weight gain that can occur over the holidays in the blink of an eye. Not that I intend to intentionally pack on those extra lbs., but the possibility exists. Not only am I in a good position from that point of view, I am also feeling pretty damn good about hitting the party circuit. My clothes are not tight, I have been working out and don't have to stand in front of my closet trying to figure out what to wear that will best camouflage my butt or my stomach. In fact, a few recent purchases have actually hugged my body in all the right places making me feel - dare I say it - sexy and fierce. A woman in the admin department where I work told me I looked like a "sexy little thing" today, two words I have not heard uttered in the same sentence in a very long time. At least not to describe me. Sexy AND little. I gave her a hug. Many years ago when I first learned about astrology, I read all I could get my hands on about the subject and one of the things I learned about my sun sign was that Capricorns were typically "late bloomers". Without getting into discussing my actual age, (OK, I'm 51), I can honestly say I have never felt better in my life. A combination of weight loss, increased exercise and general regular maintenance of my teeth, skin and hair have all paid dividends in making me the best I can be this year. Possibly the best I have ever been, because although I may have been in good shape from time to time over the decades, I was not necessarily balanced in mind and body the way I am now. In Deepak Chopra's new book, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul, this exact subject is discussed. It sounds like the perfect book for me right now. I am definitely putting this one on my Christmas list. Even my tennis game has improved. I am faster, more agile and my mind is in win mode. It seems to be working. I took the word lose out of my vocabulary and replaced it with win every time I play. I have rarely lost in months. I am on what one might call a "real roll - a winning streak." Let's just hope I don't go the way of Tiger Woods - he may keep winning at golf, but his reputation just took a major hit. For now I'll just settle for making it through the holidays without adding back 5 lbs. Wish me luck.