Monday, December 20, 2010

Countdown to Christmas Update

There are just three days left in my 25 Days of No Christmas Treats. And I've done pretty darn good!

A few of my "oops" moments:

* I had a candy cane on two seperate occasions after my bff sent me some from CA - it was 2 points on the WW program but I counted those points. And it's a yummy 2-point treat!
* I also had a three bites (total) of some Christmas cookies last night and a Hershey's kiss (with an almond in it... mmmmm).
* I had some Dove chocolates, but I figured out how many points those were, and counted them, too.

Some of my victories have include:

* baking cookies and fudge and not eating or tasting anything!
* avoiding all chocolate, cookies, and candies at work and giving away the ones that were directly given to me (the givers were unaware of this and I still expressed my gratitude at their thoughtfulness)
* eating veggies, cheese and crackers and drinking diet coke at holiday parties (very hard)
* counting and tracking everything I eat to stay on track with WW
* and my favorite victory: not only have I have I avoided gaining the 7-10 holiday pounds, I have actually lost 5.6 pounds - so in a way, I am ahead 13-15 lbs, right?

Upcoming [victorious] battles:

* Christmas Eve and Christmas Day - lots of good food (homemade bread and butter!) and goodies will be lingering around and I will need to be very strong. If I track my points, I should be good.
* New Year's Eve - I have no official plans yet, but let's face it, this day always involves eating, drinking, and being merry.
* The "after the holiday" leftovers that people litter the office with - Which, really... why make so much food if you are going to just dump it on your coworkers? As much as I love food and goodies and as much as I would be sad to see some of my favorites go, I still don't understand why holidays revolve around it. But at any rate, there are always tons of leftovers and those leftovers always find their way to the office

My wishes:

* to eat a big, fat batch of warm, slightly undercooked, Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies (and I could easily do this)
* to drink a big, fat glass of Nestle chocolate milk  :):):)

Thanks to my friends and family (coast to coast; cubicle to cubicle) who have been super supportive and who will continue to be supportive! I appreciate everyone understanding the importance of my goals and not being offended if I turn down something you offer me (or not offering me something because you know it will tempt me) so that I can keep "on track."

So, look for another update in a few weeks and I appreciate any encouragement you have to offer! =)

Cherrio!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Countdown to Christmas

There are many ways people countdown the days till Christmas.

There is the classic Advent Calendar countdown where there is something fun to do or eat each of the 25 days leading up to Christmas. Or what about the paper chain! I made one of those once in a countdown to meet Taylor (well, it wasn't a chain to countdown the days till Christmas, but I met Taylor a week after Christmas, so it was close enough). And then, we have the song we all love (well, all of us but my brother Charlie who hates all Christmas music): The 12 Days of Christmas.

There are many ways to countdown the days to Christmas and each way adds it's own fun and novelty to the whole Christmas season. This year, I have decided to make my own, personal countdown to Christmas Eve:

"25 Days of Avoiding Christmas Food and Treats"

And this joyous countdown will take place from today, November 29th, through December 23rd.

Today, I read that the average person gains 7 to 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. And really, this is something I already knew, both from reading something similar in years past, and unfortunately, from experience (special thanks to Christmas Season 2009 - and if you didn't gain the Christmas weight last year, it's because I gained yours, too).

Normally, people just throw caution to the wind, eat what they want, and then join the millions of Americans who make a New Year's Resolution to lose the weight beginning January 1st. Well, I am going on vacation in February and if I follow the normal trend, I won't have the time it requires to lose the 7 to 10 Christmas pounds (let alone the 15+ pounds left over from last year's Christmas season) in order to get this body into a reasonably un-scary, bathing suit-wearing condition.

So, I have to start working towards my goal right now.

My goal is to not only avoid gaining the 7 to 10 Christmas pounds, but to also lose the recommended 1-2 pounds per week (with the help of WeightWatchers!! who by the way, has a new PointsPlus program -as of today- that is worth checking out if you like the WW program - it's how Jennifer Hudson lost all her weight).

My "25 Days of Avoiding Christmas Food and Treats" will involve me keeping track of all the wonderful, Christmas treats and foods that I am avoiding to meet my goal. And since I work in an office (aka: dumping grounds for unwanted edibles) I am pretty sure that, short of me being a hermit and sleeping all day (which has been known to happen), I will run into at least one Christmas treat-type-thing every day.

Today's avoided treat: a peppermint, chocolatey, almond bark yumminess.

Now, I have to clarify that I am not avoiding my normal treats. For example, I have these WW-friendly ice creams bars that I like and I will continue to eat those. This whole thing is my attempt to avoid the Christmas treats, cookies, breads, special mochas from coffee shops, candy canes... CANDY CANES!!!!! (okay, I just realized right now that this means avoiding candy canes *deep breath* I can do this)!

I know that some of you will want to tell me to just enjoy Christmas treats in moderation. Here is the problem. I don't DO moderation. I'm an all or nothing kind of girl. If I bake cookies, I don't eat one; I eat most. And for me to be successful at my long-term goal (to get this out of control body into a bathing suit-tolerant condition), I have to give myself strict parameters and specific guidelines. And part of this if having a list of don'ts. To be honest, this will be way easier if I avoid all of it, rather than try to be moderate with some of it.

Feel free to join me if you find yourself in a similar "I don't want to gain 7 to 10 pounds" situation. It won't be easy, but on January 1st, when all your friends and family wake up with clothes that are too tight and fighting the obligation to join the millions of other fluffy people at the over-crowded gym, you can smile. And eat a left over Christmas cookie without an ounce of guilt :)

Now **raising a glass** here's to hoping I don't fail miserably! **clink** :-/

Close friends and family, here is where your encouragement and support comes in handy!

Who's with me???

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hockey: 10% skill, 90% knowing how to play the game

I'm sitting here at home in my jammies, and rather than getting ready to go play hockey, I am watching the Vikings get slaughtered by the Packers. We are getting freezing rain here in Minnesota and as much as I LOVE playing ice hockey, I can't justify the risk of driving on really icy roads to play (I'd be driving over 50 miles round trip).

So, since I can't play hockey today, I thought I'd use the time to write about it.

Wayne Gretzky is the greatest man to ever lace up a pair of skates. He once said, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." And I try to play by that short, but well summarized, philosophy of how to play the game.

I certainly am far from a perfect hockey player and make tons of mistakes all the time. I am not a very quick skater, although, I did learn in a Rob Little skating clinic that just when you think you are skating your fastest, try skating harder and faster, because you can. Practice skating so fast that you feel out of control and you will surprise yourself. I digress.... Anyway, I am not super quick, but I have both seen and experienced that just because someone is quick, it doesn't make them a great hockey player. Sure, speed is advantageous, but it's not what makes or breaks a game by any means.

I've seen really fast guys skate the puck from end to end, only to be shut down buy a good defender or awesome goalie. And from the bench, we can see all the missed passing opportunities that could have really increased our chances of scoring or getting a killer rebound chance if they had only lifted their head up or been willing to share the glory of a goal.

My point is that, while skill is important, knowing how to play the game is more important. There are a few things that I try to bring to my game in order to be as effective as possible and the best team player that I can possibly be. And I still have a very long ways to go...

First, skate you @ss off everytime you are on the ice. Obviously there are times when you aren't moving a whole lot, but everytime you are skating for the puck, skating to catch the opponent in their break out, moving to break up the opponent's pass, or skating towards a loose puck, skate your hardest. If you aren't skating hard then you really don't deserve to get there first. I am afraid to watch myself play on a video because I know that I would be extremely lacking in this area.

So very often, I see people coasting around, waiting for the puck to come to them or watching the game happen around them. I can't tell you how many times I've seen (and been this person) watching a pass come towards them, rather than skating a few extra steps to GO catch it, only to have the opponent intercept it because they are the ones moving their feet.

I've watched opponents and seen teammates watch as opponents handle the puck, trying to decide what to do with it, and we just sit back and watch their play happen; this, rather than skating towards them and applying pressure to FORCE them to move the puck to a place they don't necessarily want to send it. If we just sit back and watch and we don't apply that pressure then it gives them time to find an open guy to pass the puck to. But, I have also seen great results when we do apply pressure: it either forces the opponent to just dump the puck without intention or, sometimes, they turn it over and you get posession! Either way, it's a win-win so WHY not skate hard and apply the pressure?

Just a few games ago, while playing with my co-ed team, the Diablos, we were short-handed with a guy in the box. One of my awesome teammates, Monique, followed the puck into the offensive zone to apply pressure to their D. Her pressure ended up forcing a turn over and she got a short-handed goal! If she hadn't given that extra bit of effort and applied pressure, she wouldn't have created that amazing scoring opportunity.

Another aspect of the game that I believe is more important than natural talent is passing. No matter how fast you can skate, the puck can be passed at a faster speed and will force your opponent to chase you around like chickens with their heads cut off (which, btw, I just realize that I've never seen a chicken with their head cut off... hmmm). Again, this is something I really need to continue to work on.
 
When I get the puck, or see that I am about to, the first thing I do is quickly look up to see my options for passing it. I have milliseconds to decide if I have a great passing option, if it would be better for me to skate it up a bit, or if I should dump it somewhere neutral (like into the corner of the offensive zone so we can make a line change). Knowing where your passing options are is imperative to a successful hockey game. And frankly, that is why it's a team sport and not a game made up entirely of a shootout. And just as important to seeing where your options are at is talking on the ice to let your teammates know where you are and if you are open for a pass. I am SO bad at this, I need to talk on the ice way more often than I do!
 
And finally, I'd like to expand on the Great One's quote, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." The one thing that will tire out a team faster than a short walk will tire out old man Favre is chasing the puck around the ice. If you want to be successful, create turnovers and shut down the opponent, you have to be able to anticipate where the puck is going to be and get there. When the opposition is breaking out the puck or trying to get a scoring chance in our zone, I look around and think, "where is that player going to pass the puck?" And then I try and get into position to block or intercept that pass. If you aren't looking around and recognizing what the opposition's passing options are then you are playing with blinders on and will get very tired chasing around the puck - I know this from experiece!
 
Oh and one last little tid bit: never try to play goalie for your goalie. Sorry bout that Jen! :)
 
So, to sum it up: Skate your hardest ALL the time, look for passing opportunities, play where the puck is going to be, not where it's been, don't play goalie if you aren't the goalie, and Gretzky is the Great One.
 
I am getting sad that I am not at either of my games right now :(

Safety first, though, and driving on icy roads: I don't feel safe.
 
Cherrio!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way

A lot has happened in the past 7 or 8 months. Things I could not foresee. Things that, if you had told me they were going to happen, I would have said, "yeah right," and laughed. But also, things that I think have made me a better person. I was pruned, if you will.

It's amazing what you have to go through to learn who your true friends are. During a weird and tough time of my life, I had friends at work totally ditch me and throw me under the bus. To add insult to injury, they didn't hesitate to keep their opinions to themselves so now, people who I don't even know that well, give me the cold shoulder. Other friends who I thought had my back and whom I confided in were telling the first people what I was saying all the while pretending they felt my pain. I felt so betrayed and so alone. What sucks more is that I have to see these people every day. And it's been a long journey figuring out how to deal with this mess, loss of trust, loss of friendships, disloyalty, backstabbing and being totally ignored by people who I thought were friends and people who I sat right next to 40 hours a week.

But, all things work out for the good right? Right. Because through this I have learned SO much.

I have learned that it's totally unfair to form concrete and unwavering opinions about people when you don't really know them, especially if your experience with that person is just what someone else tells you. We have no idea what people's stories are. We might think we know people because we see them 5 days a week but what is going on in their personal lives that we don't know about? I know it's lame to bring your personal problems to work and be rude to people who have nothing to do with whatever has made you upset, but sometimes life is just that overwhelming and you can't help but be distracted, withdrawn or impersonal with people. Maybe, rather than judging someone, be there for them. Tell them you are there to listen if they need it. Or just be kind. And for goodness sake, don't fuel rumors or go around telling people that "Suzie is such a mean person." When I needed a friend, my friends bailed on me and made false judgements about me rather than asking me what was up. It sucked but because of this, I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, stick up for those people who are being "picked on," because I know what it feels like now. And it sucks. And no one deserves to be treated so poorly.

I have also learned that if one of your closest friends is someone who is quick to tell you someone else's secrets or pretends to genuinely care about people to get information and then tell other people what they've learned, that friend will do the same thing to you - pretend to care about you to get information and then tell your secrets. I should have seen that coming. I am MUCH more cautious about what I tell people now and who I tell stuff to.

Another thing I've learned through this is who my real friends are. And what a breath of fresh air they have been. It's so awesome to have friends who are genuine, fun, and who really, really care. I think that I will learn to be a better friend because of this, too.

Finally, I am in the processes of learning to care a lot less about what others think of me and be more concerned about being myself, sticking to my morals and convictions, and getting to know some really nice and genuine people I work with.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Time

Time is like toilet paper: it's only useful if you use it. And you only have so much of it before it's gone so you better not waste it.

There are a lot of things we take for granted in life. And if it's not #1 on the list, I think "time" is certainly a contender for that spot.

Just think about it. How many people wish for the day they graduate high school or college? Get married? Go on vacation? Have a baby? Get that perfect job? Retire? Or even small stuff like looking forward to getting off work and going to bed?

It's like time is our enemy or something. Anytime someone tells me they can't wait for retirement I always say, "I don't want to be retiring soon; that would mean I'm over 60 years old!!" I mean, there is nothing wrong with being 60, but I'd like to live from ages 29-59 first.

Don't get me wrong, there are certainly moments in life I hope will pass quickly. There are lots of days that I hope for my work day to go by quickly and unfortunately, my job is the perfect concoction for time to crawl by slower than a toddler pulling a U-haul trailer behind his tricycle.

Oh or what about that moment when you are in the check-out line at Target with a gallon of milk in one hand and a loaf of bread in the other and the person in front of you has a shopping cart with $200+  worth of stuff in it? It never fails that they look at you, observe your two items, and then continue to put their stuff on the belt, rather than extend the courtesy of letting you sneak ahead of them with your two things. That is definitely a situation where you hope time flies by.

Anyway, I think we spend way to much of our life wishing it away, looking forward to the next event, thing, or moment. And I think we need to savor each moment.

I am not talking about making sure that at the end of every day you have a few things checked off your TTD list and you donated at least an hour of your time to charity. I'm talking about being able to look back at your day knowing that you were intentional about it. Even if that means you intentionally laid on the couch and watched tv. Even if that means you intentionally avoided all the things you had to do that day because you knew it could wait till tomorrow. And even if it means that you hated every minute of what you had to do but you did it anyway because you knew it had to get done.

And time... I don't think it heals all things. Well, objectively, time heals cuts and scraps and stuff (along with a little natural science hard at work). But the "time heals all things" deal... not so sure that is true. Time just provides you with the opportunity to address or avoid your issues. And I feel like the past few months I've learned to work with time and use it to my advantage. I have some things I'm working through - no, nothing major, just the usual struggles of life and learning how to deal with difficult people and situations. And with this, I am trying to be patient. I am trying to not wish myself to the moment where I feel like I have handle on things (heck, that moment might not ever come). And I'm doing my best to learn from and internalize the little lessons along the way and to see where I made mistakes in the past and handle things differently the next time I encounter similar situations.

Obviously, there are a zillion reasons why we should not waste the time we are given. But I guess the important thing to remember is that time is not reversible or replaceable. What you have is what you get. And unlike that roll of toilet paper, you can't just run out to Costco and buy more, so use it wisely =)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Unfriended

It's been an interesting year regarding friends. (don't worry, I won't be talking about anyone who reads this blog - or if they do read this blog, they are stalking me, which is creepy)

Unfriended. That word has become a household word thanks to Facebook. This year, I've been unfriended, both on facebook and in the real world (and technically the facebook unfriending manifests itself in the real world too).

What I find to be sad, but amusing is that a few of these unfriendings are not the first time it's happened. Two words: Junior High. I hated Jr. High. And basically all my secondary education from there on out. The worst part for me was not having to get out of bed (although I did hate that), it wasn't the homework, teachers or having to ride the bus occasionally -very occasionally! Thanks mom :) School sucked because of the drama that ensues between kids.

I'd have friends who I thought were good friends. We'd hang out at school all day, talk on the phone all night, and then, the next day, I'd go to school and said friends would want nothing to do with me. I'd be treated as though I was a vile, infectious disease that was to be avoided at all costs. And it sucked. I hated going to school not knowing if I would have friends that day.

We grew up and I stayed in touch with those "friends" and things were fine. But it's amazing how something like those few years of Jr. High can have a huge impact on my life. I always felt ugly and undesireable because I was literally told those things. I have always been really insecure in friendships, afraid that I might do or say something that will make people stop liking me because in Jr. High, that was my reality. I've gotten a lot better about feeling that insecure; I try to be confident in who I am and realize that my personality was not a mistake.

But I found it to be kind of ironic that I have, once again, been unfriended. by the same people Now, I don't mind being unfriended in theory. I have unfriended people on facebook that I don't talk to ever, that I hardly know, or people who simply wouldn't notice I was no longer one of their 538 friends. But if I have offended someone, someone who is a real friend, I'd rather know and be given a chance to make it right (or at least given an explanation) rather than randomly discover that I have been nixed. I guess some people are good at unfriending... either that or I am good at losing friends? Maybe I really am doing something so annoying or horrible that someone would like me one day and not the next?

Not all of the people who've unfriended me in real life are facebook friends. I was recently unfriended by someone at work because (after 3 months of being ignored and I finally asked what was up and I found out that...) they held me to a high standard and apparently they thought I was only dating Karl because he's cute. Seriously? you might ask... Seriously. Now don't get me wrong, Karl is cute and I think physical attraction is super important. But if I was only in a relationship for "cute" then I wouldn't have waited so long to seriously date someone. I mean, is the world really full of people who are so shallow that they just unfriend people without even giving the person an opportunity to make things right or clear up whatever misunderstanding has taken place?

If someone says something super offensive and it seems out of nowhere, out of character, or extremely personal (but how would they know that about me???) then man up and talk to the person. Chances are there is a good explanation for what was said or what happened.

I've come to realize a few things through all these unfriendings. First, if someone is that shallow, I don't want them as a friend anyway. Second, I've learned what it means to be a real friend thus, I recognize those friends in my own life. Third, some friendships are only for a season and while it's a shame they have to end the way they do, there is no point in trying to force a friendship beyond it's purposed time.

Now, I am not claiming to be a perfect friend. I've definitely been that "bad friend" but situations like this have really made think about how I can be a better friend to those I love. It has also made me realize that we each have different ideas of what it is that others do that show they are a true friend. For me, it's listening during tough times, reaching out to me if I'm not myself (rather than "giving me space"), and weirdly, coming to watch me play hockey. For some reason, that is super high on my list. haha

I'm thankful for all my friends, both in "real life" and those I mostly keep in touch with in cyber world...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hockey Season

I love fall!

The cooler weather is amazing, but more importantly, fall means hockey season is here!

The beginning of October marks the beginning of the NHL 2010-2011 season. And it means the beginning of MY hockey season.

This year, I will be playing on the Diablos coed team again.

And I will also be playing on a women's team: The Jets.

I am stoked!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Write God's Word on your heart foot...

The past month has been interesting and good. Hard and necessary. Beneficial and enjoyable.

I have had to face some of my anxiety issues head on; it became unavoidable. And for those of you who knew I was off work, that issue goes way deeper than what I am going to write about here, so this isn't "why" I was off work, just something that came up during that time. And since this is a public blog, we're going to avoid the "why I was off work" issue. Oh and this is NOT an invitation to ask why I was off, either :)

write the disclaimer. check.

Onward....

I have had some deep struggles with God these past few years. Well, I've had them longer than a few years, but now, I'm finally admiting it. And it's not so much me struggling with God as me just avoiding the fact that I need to struggle with God. I have been extremely frustrated with not having answers to hard questions. Tough questions that many pastors would avoid... like, how can we know that something is an answer to prayer versus a happening that would have occured even if I was a tree-hugging-must-do-yoga-and-be-one-with-the-earth-athiest? Why, when God promises peace (assurance) of salvation by simply "believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth Jesus is Lord," would someone have to pray for years to receive that peace? How can we be sure there is a heaven when no one (I'm talking no one who is still alive AND I can see face to face) has been there and then came back to say, "Hey earthlings, I've got good news and bad news: Heaven is real. So is hell."

These questions just scratch the surface of what I deal with in my head. Day in and day out, I have questions like this. Sometimes I avoid thinking about them, and other times, I have tearfully poured over these questions with friends and family. But what has remained consistent is this: no matter how much I question or how hard it is for me to have faith (if I have any at all) I KNOW that the Bible is true, God is who he says he is, and even if I don't "get" Him, it doesn't make his Word any less true.

Having said that, I still have to deal with this stuff. God created me and gave me what I'd like to call the "Clark Personality" - I over analyse everything, I want facts, I need things and people to be tangible, and any explanation needs to be logical, to the point and without fluff (hey, I didn't say that is the way that *I* will always explain something to you haha). I wish I had the "uncomplicated" faith type of personality: take things at face value, trust everyone, and believe that everyone around me is doing their best to make everyone else feel warm and fuzzy. Maybe this personality wouldn't be able to debate theology as well, but they wouldn't need to; they know whom they believe in and that is enough for them. Wouldn't that be great!? =) I am jealous of people who are like that!

So, here I sit, needing answers about a God who I know is real and living and true but many of the questions I'm asking don't have the kind of answers that I like to have.

This struggle of mine has freaked some people out... like mom. Don't worry mom, I understand... you are on the outside looking in, seeing me, your daughter, struggle with something that used to be so easy for me. Seeing me making changes in my life and you fear that I won't find my way back to God. I don't blame you for questioning my committment to my faith.
But this whole thing kind of came to a point where I really needed my faith to be real and if it wasn't, I was not going to continue pretending. What would be the point of that? I have a feeling there will be lots of people who went through life doing and saying all the right things, while secretly having questions about what they believe, and someday, they will stand before God, shocked that their name isn't found in the book, because while they were damn good at doing and saying the right thing, they never really trusted God... I don't want that to be me (or anyone for that matter).

So. I decided to ask the questions and stop pretending.
Something I've always known but that has become very apparent to me is this: you can't talk someone into believing in Jesus. Sure, God might use a conversation you have, but it is not something you can talk to someone about, have them repeat a special prayer and bam! saved! Often times those conversations and prayers get the ball rolling and sometimes, God uses those moments to bring people to himself. But when God gets your heart, I am confident that you will just know it. You will have that peace of salvation (even if, for some reason that only God knows, God makes you pray for that peace for years and years). I don't have that peace; which doesn't necessarily mean I'm not "saved" but it concerns me enough to seek that peace. And I might have to pray for it for a while but I am counting on God to deliver on that promise!

And I don't want to be the cookie-cutter Christian. I might read this someday and "lol" that I am saying this, but I doubt it. I want to be *real* because guess what, I have issues. We all do. Yet when you walk into a church many people hide their problems (granted, some issues you want to hide, at least from most people). But I am so tired of the facade. I am tired of people cringing and looking at me funny because I said a bad word (sometimes, I am emotional and I swear because it's the best word that fits in that moment. And YOU do too!!! You may not admit it. You may not say it out loud. But 4 letter words run through your head sometimes. Own up to it. haha). I am tired of people freaking out because I didn't go to church for a week, month or, wait for it, a year. Basically, God didn't give us a check list of do's and don't's on how to live our lives (yes, there are laws and certain things that are sins, but he didn't say: wear skirts, don't go to bars, never dye your hair blue, always judge people who smoke, etc).
So, my goal is this: seek answers to the questions and trust God with the rest. As someone who likes to have total control, this is never going to happen in my lifetime, but hopefully, it will get better. And just as a side note, just because I am writing this post, doesn't mean I am going to get my church clothes out and join a church next week; it doesn't mean I want to talk about this kind of stuff all the time; it doesn't mean I want to pray together or read the Bible together.
It's a step.
Kind of like the AA program... Step 1: Admit you have a problem. Check. I have a problem. A faith problem.

To get to the title of this post... I wanted something to remind me of this endeavor, my "faith journey" if you will... something so that I don't forget. Something that can be a permanant reminder that I choose Jesus, even if he confuses the crap out of me sometimes! So, even though this will cost me $300 when my dad finds out (a whole other topic for another time), I felt it was something I wanted to do... for me... so no one else has to like it because I do.

And so.... since I can't literally write God's Word on my heart, I figured I do the next best thing... put a Christian fish and cross on my foot (in PINK of course).

I know what you are thinking... "You're going to regret that someday." Sure. Maybe. But here's the thing... first, there are bigger things in life to regret. second, even if I regret the permanant marking, I will never regret my reasons for doing it and what it reminds me of.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What do you think?

I can't remember where, but I heard this quote a few weeks ago:
Small towns breed small minds.
What do you think?
What exactly does a "small mind" look like?
Would you or I know if we had a small mind?
What is the opposite of a small mind?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Right & Wrong versus Consequences

What makes something right or wrong?

Is it solely dependant upon whether or not there is a favorable outcome or negative consequence? Is it your ability to get away with it? Is it what is socially acceptable?

While there are definitely things in life where right and wrong are purely situational - like where you live, work, and send your kids to school are based on what's right for you and your family - I would argue that there are some things in life that are right or wrong simply based on the fact that they are right or wrong. Consequences, outcomes, feelings, and societal acceptance are non-factors; they are simply not relevant.

Let's start with an example that we can all agree with. Murder. Not only is murder unacceptable in our western society, it's unacceptable and criminal worldwide. No matter how much we might hate someone, no matter how bad they "wronged" us, it is not okay to kill.

But what if someone is a child rapist? Is it okay to kill them outside the law (we won't even go into capital punishment at this point)? Like, is it okay for you to decide that the child rapist should die and kill them? I mean, let's face it. The world would be a better place with less rapists. Most people would say "no" it's not okay for you to kill the person, even though they did something horrible.

Now, what if they child rapist raped YOUR child? Now is it okay to kill them? Of course you would want to kill them! And most people would not condemn you for it. Hell, they raped your child. And no one would argue that the rapist deserves to die. But is it OKAY, right, appropriate, and permissible for YOU to kill the rapist? What if you could get away with it? You have the perfect plan and no one would ever, ever, ever know you did it. What about now? Can you kill the person now?

No. It is not okay for you kill that person. And it's not because they aren't a horrible person. They are. And it's not because they didn't hurt someone you love. They did. And it's not because they don't deserve to die. They do. It's wrong because MURDER IS WRONG. End of story.

Many things in life are either right or wrong, despite possible consequences, ability to get away with it, extenuating circumstances, exceptions, or societal acceptance.

What about stealing? More people have stolen something than killed a person. I would argue that everyone has stolen something in their life. Maybe not a stereo from a house you broke into, a sports bra from Target, or even a soda pop when you asked for a water cup at McDonald's. Most people have stolen time. Have you ever chatted with your co-worker for 10 minutes instead of working? Have you ever called in sick because you wanted a day off? Have you ever realized you got incorrect change after you got to your car and not go back in to give the $0.30 back? No matter how small the offense, most of us, if not all, have knowingly taken something that is not ours.

And stealing is unacceptable and considered wrong worldwide. But what about the dad who needs to steal food to feed his kids? Yes, this is super sad. Yes, most parents would do this if it meant their child had dinner. But does that make it right? No, it doesn't. This is a sad, extenuating circumstance that we all hope to never be in. But should we legalize stealing, legalize taking something that isn't yours just because there might be a family out there who can't eat unless they steal?

It would do our society a huge injustice to make it okay to take something that isn't yours just so this family doesn't miss a meal. Obviously this is a sad situation and I hope that in cases like this the families are able to get help, food, something from their community, food shelf, etc. But unfortunately, this is reality. But it doesn't make stealing okay.

Here is another example that we may not all agree on (which, actually, furthers my point). Most states have the death penalty. So we'll assume that most Americans are okay with the death penalty as a punishment for extremely bad people (murderers, terrorists, rapists). I, personally, do not think the death penalty is okay. I think it's a "legal" form of murder. I think it's applied unjustly, arbitrarily, and frankly, doesn't serve justice. It's legalized revenge. It's the government playing God. That is what I think.

For this example, let's assume that I am right (and since I am a Clark, there is a good chance I am right). Let's assume that the death penalty, is in fact, wrong. Well, most Americans think it's okay. I mean, they voted for it at some point and haven't overturned the legalization of it in most states. Assuming I am right (had to remind you of that), then my opinion is the minority, which means that most of society has agreed that something that is wrong (the death penalty) is right. Well, is the death penalty indeed "right" just because most people think it's okay? No. Majority opinion does not mean that something is right. Most people voted for Obama (had to say that lol)... but on the flip side, most people voted for Bush...

Now for a more controversial issue. Here is where I will likely lose all the credibility I just established with those who don't agree with the next issue. Abortion.

Abortion is wrong. Once the sperm burrows his way into the egg a life begins. The egg would never have begun to grow without the sperm. And the sperm would never have grown without the egg, despite the fact that he was the fastest swimmer out of millions of sperm. Without each other, human life can't happen.

Left alone, the fastest swimmer and lucky egg will grow into a baby. A child. A human life. This is the only way human life happens. It is not a mistake that it takes 9 months for a child to grow in it's mother's womb. It is not a mistake that the heart doesn't start beating until about 25 days after conception.

Yes. Sometimes things go wrong and the baby dies before it has a chance to breathe in it's first breathe. Sometimes things go wrong before it even develops a heart beat. Sometimes things go wrong before mommy even knows that daddy's fastest swimmer hooked up with her recent drop out.

Just because a baby dies before it's born doesn't mean it's okay to choose to take it's life. Just because the baby's daddy raped the baby's mommy doesn't mean that the baby doesn't have a right to live. And it's a baby. Following it's natural course, uninterrupted, it will be a newborn in 9 months. If that baby is destroyed, it is gone forever. Forever. It will never have a chance at life. Love. Happiness. Pain. Family. Friendship.

A baby's worth is NOT dependant on whether or not it's mother wants it. Why is it a miscarriage if the baby dies because of natural causes at 12 weeks along but "abortion" if the mom decides she doesn't want it when the baby is 12 weeks along? When the baby is wanted, the mom refers to it as her "baby" when she is pregnant. If I choose to remove my baby from my womb because I don't want it, it's called abortion and it's legal. If I am pregnant and someone kills me and unborn child, it's a double homicide. In both scenarios, the same, damn thing happened. My baby died. It's a double standard. And either both situations are okay OR both are wrong. A life was destroyed and the rightness or wrongness, the baby's status should not be dependant on it's desirableness (is that word?).

I get that sometimes a mother must choose her own life or her baby's. If she doesn't abort, she will die and so will the baby. This is a HORRIBLE situation. Unfathomable. And no mother should ever have to make this decision. But should we allow the destruction of a growing life just because of the rare exception?

Should we allow stealing because there might be a dad out there who can't afford to buy food for his family tonight? Should we allow people to kill anyone they want because some people might choose to kill rapists? In both the aforementioned scenarios, it would be ridiculous to legalize something "wrong" just because of a rare exception. Abortion is no different. It's not about a choice; sure, the baby is growing in the female body, and the baby is dependant on her body, too. But it is NOT her body. It is NOT her soul. Your 3 month old, 3 year old, 13 year old is dependant on you, too. They count on you to feed them, clothe them, provide them shelter. Should you be able to kill them just because you don't want them? Or because it's inconvenient for you to support them? Obviously not.

Here is where I think my credibility might be lost with those who are "pro-choice" - this post was really not about abortion. There are so many things in my life right now where people are making decisions, justifying things, and trying to drive points home because an outcome turned out okay, because they got away with it, and because other people are doing it.

Outcomes, consequences, and majority opinion or affirmation does not make something right or wrong.

There are some things in life that are right or wrong aside from consequences, societal approval, ability to get away with something, or favorable outcomes.

If we don't have the ability to know right from wrong and we don't make decisions based on the rightness or wrongness of something, despite the consequences, then we don't have integrity.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ambulatory EEG

Many people have been wondering why I had an Ambulatory EEG.

First, thanks for asking... I truly appreciate the concern.

Several years ago I started feeling these weird "head spells" -it used to be infrequent but over the past year and half they've increased to several times per week. Some days, they are several times a day.

These head spells are very hard to describe but the closest I can come to describing it is by saying that it's kind of like a momentary disconnect between my body and mind. As a side note, when I was a kid I used to have night terrors and the same recurring dream. The scariest part was that in the dream I felt a disconnect from myself. Like I wanted to get to my family but couldn't because I didn't have control over my own body. This brief head spell is a very small version of that feeling. Another quick description of these head spells is that it's kind of like that feeling you get when you stand up too quickly (except I DON'T blackout and it's not triggered by standing up too quick).

It can be a split second or several seconds. If I had one while talking to you face to face, you most likely wouldn't know it even happened to me. Every once in a while, if it's a "long" one, I find myself shaking my head quick to kind of "shake it off." This isn't something that interferes with my quality of life in the sense that I can drive, work, play, etc even if I am having a day with many head spells.

The reason I went to my doctor about them is to rule out anything serious. I had an MRI last year to rule out tumors, MRA's of my head and neck to rule out poor blood flow to my brain, an EEG (the regular kind) last year to rule out Epilepsy, and now this 48 hour, Ambulatory EEG to rule out another kind of epilepsy?? I guess haha.

The way this Ambulatory EEG worked was I had about 25 electrodes glued to my head and the wires were connected to a battery pack I wore around my waist. My head was all wrapped up in bandages and then this sock thing and then finally a hospital cap over the top of it all. The battery pack was the size of about 2 VHS tapes, but heavier. I had to push a button on the battery pack box whenever I had a "head spell" as well as keep a detailed diary of everything I did (watch tv, eat, bathroom, walk up the stairs, napped, etc). It was really uncomfortable. Especially because I sleep on my tummy and the pack was on my stomach (although I have been informed that being pregnant also hinders comfy sleeping for tummy sleepers).

I will get the results back in a few weeks. I am hoping it's normal (duh). My Neuro has a pretty good idea of what this problem is (I don't remember what he called it and would probably not even recognize it if someone said it). But it's nothing that a little mind retraining and a little bit of meds can't control. Yay.

So, "thanks" to everyone who asked what the test was for and how the test went. It means a lot to me!

Oh and these pics are for Erin, who personally requested to see them, a few times. haha.


This is the mess of wires and the battery pack I wore
(sorry the pic is kind of dark)

Wires glued to my head

(I am smiling b/c this was right before they came off! yay!)

And the bandages and sock thing on my head.

What I looked like with the hospital cap on.

This was the first day... hence the sad face.

The back of my head with wires poking out.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Be Nice - Part I

This is a blog post that's a long time coming. Like, I've been pondering this issue for months, possibly years. And recently (last week), I was in a 3- day "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" seminar at work and it's what inspired me to actually sit down and write this. This is also kind of "soap box" type stuff for me.

I am having trouble even narrowing down the topic (as I am typing right now, I don't have a blog title yet). So I will see if I can dig right in. (ok I just typed a bunch and deleted it all haha).

Crabby People.

Crabby people bug me. Crabby strangers bug me - you know, rude cashiers, a customer service rep whose job is to the answer the phone but with each "hello" she makes it very clear that she has better things to do, the crabby lady in Walmart (I am clearly just imagining this one since I don't shop there) with extremely poor hygiene, in dirty stretch pants, wearing all of her 4,000 McDonald's meals on her hips, yelling at her 5 "no shirt, no shoes" kids under 5 for simply being kids.... people like that bug me. But while crabby strangers bug me, crabby non-strangers bug me even more.

When I was in jr. high and high school, my crabbiness peeked. I hated going to school: some days my friends liked me; some days they didn't. I was really insecure (who wouldn't be after being told someone thought they have gained weight and had the bushiest eyebrows??). I had no plans for after high school. And worst of all, I had to get up every morning for school. I hated (and still do) getting up in the mornings.

One morning, just like every day that preceeded it, I was stumbling from my bedroom to the bathroom, probably running late, and probably assuming that everyone should clear out of the bathroom because I only had 5 minutes till we walked out there door (this is a great example of the old saying, "A lack of planning on your part doesn't constitute and emergency on my part," except at the time, I thought my lack of planning should have constituted an emergency bathroom evacuation on my family's part). Anyway, just like every morning, my dad said "good morning" to me, to which I responded "_____" <-- nothing.

My dad had had it; and rightly so. He told me that I had no business being so crabby at everyone in the family all the time. And he was right. I was choosing to be crabby... every day. I hated school, I hated getting up, I hated being a jr. high and then high school girl and all the drama and insecurites that went along with it. But that didn't give me any right to be crabby with my family. And with those I love.

I get very annoyed when family or friends are crabby. I know that life can be rough. I get that you are annoyed because your husband is being a turd today, or because work is overwhelming, or because your kid didn't do the dishes for the 3rd day in a row. I get it. But why, oh why, must you take it out on ME? Why, when we have a bad day at home do we have to be b!tchy to our friends at work? And why, when we have a bad day at work, do we have to be b!tchy to those at home? I hate walking up to someone who was all cheery yesterday and getting the cold shoulder - the "I really wish you hadn't just walked up to me" look -with not even a little effort to be cordial.

I am NOT saying you can't be annoyed or crabby. And clearly this doesn't apply to tragedy. But if you are choosing to remain crabby about "insert situation that made you crabby here but has nothing to do with those who you are with now," and you don't want to talk about it, then do those around you a favor when they try to interact with you and get a cold shoulder: 1) tell them you are crabby but it's not at them and 2) go somewhere else till you de-crabify.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Meet Abby

* Abigail Elizabeth Clark *
* 7 lbs 2.5 oz *
* 21 inches *
* Beautiful *
Abby is clearly already a Clark as illustrated by these pics:

A napper....

A Chargers fan...


A thinker....


And an intelligent look in her eye...



Welcome to the Family, Abby!!!

*To give credit where credit is due, Tiff's friend Katie took these pics- see more of her pics at: http://katisimmonsphotography.blogspot.com/

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Best Feeling Ever

I want to know what your some of your most favorite feelings ever are!

I am not talking about emotional feelings and I am not talking about the obvious ones -let's assume getting hugs and kisses from your kids, hearing "I love you" from those you care about, winning money, and well, anything that happens in the bedroom with your significant other, are all some common favs so let's skip the obvious ones.

I will go first.

One of my favorite feelings is a long, hot shower after not showering for a few days (you know, like after camping or something).

And another... brushing my teeth after not being able to for the whole day. Oh and going to sleep knowing that I don't have to set an alarm!

Ok... your turn...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mexican Meatloaf

If you are looking for a spicy, yummy twist to your boring meatloaf, I have a solution for you: Mexican Meatloaf.

Ingredients:

- Cooking Spray
- 1/2 lb extra lean ground beef
- 1/2 lb lean ground turkey
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 cup cornbread stuffing dry mix (ie: Cornbread Stove Top Stuffing)
- 1 medium chopped onion (pick your favorite color)
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 4 oz green chili peppers, diced
- 8oz canned enchilada sauce


Instructions:


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a broiler pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix beef, turkey, egg whites, stuffing mix, onion, chili powder, cumin, chilies, and half of enchilada sauce together. Shape into an oval with your hands and place on prepared boiler pan. Cook for 1 hour. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and bake for 5 more minutes. Slice into 6 pieces and serve.

For those of you on Weight Watchers, each serving is 3 points (6 servings per meatloaf).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'm A Loser

And so are my dad and 3 brothers (mom and Tiff are turds b/c they never have weight problems).

After 3 of the 4 siblings had separate discussions with our parents about our desire to lose a few pounds that creeped up on us this winter, my dad suggested having a "Clark Family Weight Loss Challenge" so that we could encourage and motivate each other. Let's face it, no one likes to face the challenges of losing weight alone.

So, my dad sent us "kids" an email with the terms and conditions. I won't get into the details of "incentives" (other than the obvious weight loss incentive) of the terms and conditions, but if any of you know my dad, you will know there are always terms and conditions when it comes to making a deal with my dad :)

Our challenge goes from February 22- May 22. We all reported our starting weight to my dad as well as our goal weight. He sent us back what our target weight loss percent is and an excel spreadsheet chart that we can use to track our weight loss each week. Each Monday we report our weight loss to my dad and he sends the results to all of us so that we all know how everyone is doing.

I am not sure about brother 2 and 3, but brother 1, dad, and I are using the weight watchers (WW) program. I find that, for me, this provides the structure I need while allowing flexibility of food choices. I can follow this plan and not feel deprived or like I am dieting. Well, maybe it feels a little like dieting but not as bad as having to follow a plan where I am sent a processed meal to eat 3 times a day.

Not only do I have the support of my family and friends, I also have a few co-workers going to the WW meetings with me on our Monday lunch breaks. And a few others from work are trying to get healthy by following various programs. Needless to say, I am surrounded by encouragement and motivation!

So this first week, I lost 4.6 lbs. This is pretty typical for the first week. Your body goes into shock and you typically lose a lot the first week. Next week I am not as optimistic but as long as the number on the scale keeps getting smaller I will be happy!

In case anyone is wondering or concerned, my reasons for wanting to do this is simply to feel more comfortable in my own skin. I'm doing this for me; no one else.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Half Empty or Half Full?

Life is about perspective.

I think of the analogy of seeing the glass half empty or half full. It's the same glass, yet two people see it totally different. Optimists and Pessimists. I think that we all have an inclination to be positive or negative. I'm guessing that part of it is in your nature and part is learned. But either way, we have a tendency to see things in a positive light or a negative light.

And people think they can't change.

Let's talk about pessimists first. It's extremely draining to be around someone who always sees the negative side in every situation. Someone who jumps to worrying or the "but what-if such-and-such bad thing happens??" The person who always has a story to show how they are worse off or someone who discredits your bad day by telling you how they should get more sympathy than you. Annoying.

The fact is, it's extremely draining to be around perpetual pessimists. For me, if I don't find a way to phase that person out, I will most likely call them out at some point b/c I just can't handle it. Don't get me wrong, though... there is definitely times for complaining, legitimate reasons to worry, or one-up someone with your "I have it worse" story. But the truth of the matter is that no one likes being around someone who is constantly a buzz kill.

Now let's talk about optimists... they aren't always cheery to be around either. Just like someone who is constantly negative, it's also annoying to be around someone who is just too positive. I am sorry, but sometimes, you have to be like, yeah, your day/situation sucks and there is nothing good about that! If someone is always positive, it can come across as fake and not genuine at all.

I guess what I'm saying is we need balance. I like to think of myself as someone who doesn't see the glass half empty or half full (maybe the cup was just not the right size to being with?). I feel like I am a realist. I like to look at the situation and think of realistic outlooks. I will admit when something is super crappy but also try and see the positive in something, if there is a positive to been seen.

So, if you find that you are too optimistic or too pessimistic, there is hope for you. You can change! Like any other habit, it takes deliberate attempts to create the changes you want. If you constantly see the negative in things, try and think of one positive after you've caught yourself thinking negatively. And remember that just because you might have a "bigger better" story or you might have it worse off, realize that for the other person, they are having a moment where they need you to understand, not try and top it. If you are overly positive, try and see why someone is frustrated or not on cloud 9 with you. We can all use a little sympathy at times.

I am not sure why I blogged about this. I was actually intending on blogging about attitudes and how I find it annoying that people are rude to those closest to them when someone else makes them mad. I mean, be nice to your friends, even if you are feeling crabby. We can at least try and empathize and be someone to vent too! Or if you don't feel like talking, tell your friends you are having a bad day so we know not to take it personal! Ok, I will save that for another day :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Question for Pet Owners

If someone offered you $100,000 to give up your most beloved pet, would you make the trade?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Letter To the Vikings and Chargers

Dear Vikings and Chargers,

I just wanted to apologize for your losses this year in the playoffs... and every other year you've ever lost a playoff or Super Bowl game. Anytime a decedent of the Clark family likes a team, that team becomes cursed and will never win a Championship game.

Yet, because the Clark decedents are loyal people, we refuse to cheer for any other team above the Chargers and Vikings. Unfortunately, that means that you will never win a Championship game.

On the bright side, we are your most loyal fans! And we hope that little factoid brings at least a little ray of sunshine into your lives!

Signed,
Jessica (for the Clarks)

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Letter to the Chargers

Dear Chargers,

Oh how you continue to let your fans down... year after year. If only you knew how much your fans love you and count on you for a win when it mattered the most. Even though we know you will let us down, we still get our hopes up; keeping our fingers crossed, we think, "maybe this will be the year!?!" But, hark, it is never the year. Never. Ever.

Only a team like the Chargers can have a kicker with a 60+ successful kicking streak and then miss 3 kicks in a row during a play off game. Only the Chargers would kick a challenge flag, draw a 15 yard penalty, and negate the yards they just conquored. Only the Chargers would lose to a team like the Jets, THE JETS, when it really mattered.

We cheer for you week after week. We wear your shirts. We proudly display your bumper stickers on our cars. We even schedule our vacations around the possibility of your playing in the Super Bowl. And what do you give us in return? 14 points. A kicker with his head in the sand. A team with their head up their @sses.

You think you are great. You think your 11 game winning streak is impressive. Well, you're not and it isn't. What's impressive is a family who has been faithful to you for 40+ years and 3 generations (with a 4th generation who will also be faithful once they are old enough to know how to say "Chargers").

Even though you dangle carrots in front of us year after year before you rip it from our eye-sight, we are not going anywhere. No way. We are faithful. We will not let you down. We will continue to cheer you on. We will wear your colors proudly.

All we ask for in return is for a win when it matters. Just ONE win. But, if you can't pull off that one win, please, at the very least, play the game with your heads on straight rather than up your butts.

Sincerely,

Jessica (for all the Clarks)