Another New Year

We took a pass on the celebrations this year. We saw a movie (Unbroken), got Chinese food, and came home. Mads and I were still up at midnight, so we wished each other a Happy New Year and then switched back to watching Netflix. Very low key, very enjoyable.

Today was for football and catching up on some dyeing. The dye pots have been hot all day and I’m thrilled to be back in the swing of it. Next show is the Madison, Wisconsin Knitter’s guild at the end of February. Looking forward to trying out a new show and meeting new people.

My one resolution for the year is to be creative every day. That means either art journaling, knitting, spinning, or trying something new (or maybe blogging?). I can’t make any promises, but I will try to post pictures of whatever creative endeavor comes out.

Happy New Year – my gin and tonic is getting warm.

Faberge Exhibit

Sassy’s favorite egg

 A couple of months ago, my sister called and asked if Sassy and I wanted to go to the Detroit Institute of Arts for the Faberge Exhibit. We had toured the Kremlin when we were in Moscow in 2001 and she thought it might be nice to see more of the collection. On Sunday we all headed over there.

The treasures were in cases, so I couldn’t get as close as I wanted. It’s hard to focus on all the detail when you’re packed in with lots of other people. Plus – these things are so filled with detail that it’s completely impossible to see everything. You’re looking at enameling covered by gold stripes filled with precious gems, and then more enameling…unbelievable. 

Only one of the eggs was open. Most of them had descriptions of the surprises that were originally inside the eggs, some with small pictures of the surprises. There were parasol handles, candy boxes, frames, icons, cups, miniature animals, chess boards, candle holders – you name it, if the Romanov family bought it, there was at least one example on display.

My favorite egg

At the end of the exhibit Sassy and I were waiting for the others. I turned to her and said, “You know, every time I approach the story of the Russian monarchy, I want the ending to be different. I want them all to live.”


I want the Tsaritsa to say, “Hey Nicky! We need to come clean about the Tsarevitch’s health – let’s tell the people that he’s sick.” And, “Rasputin – get lost. You stink and you’re a pig. Take a hike!”

I want the Tsar to say, “Maybe it’s not such a good idea to spend oodles of money on incredibly intricate but ultimately useless gifts. Mama, Alix, this year for Easter let’s just have a nice dinner and hide eggs for the kids. What we save on our Faberge bill will buy lots of bread for the people.”

I know it’s simplistic to wish they had seen what was coming and somehow plan for it, but it doesn’t stop me from hoping and then feeling bad every time they die at the end. 

GTD Redux

I believe I’ve written here before about my attempts at getting on the Getting Things Done train. GTD is the shorthand for a program created by David Allen that shows you how to structure your life so that everything gets done and you have time to do all the things you HAVE to do as well as all the things you WANT to do.

This year, Jillian challenged me to jump back on the train with her. I’ve spent the majority of the last two days processing notes from meetings I’ve been involved in over the last 12 months. Seriously! Here’s the thing, I take notes on index cards when I’m in a meeting. I capture high points, future projects, action items, and the like. The ideal is to process these notes within a couple of days. The reality is, I had a stack of index cards about four inches tall. Unacceptable.

So, I’m working my way through and hoping I can stick with it. I hate the idea of completely scheduling my life, but it looks like that’s the only way I can actually get things done. (see what I did there?)

Digging Deep for the New Year


In the fall of 2012, I was working really hard and completed a big task very well. I was utterly satisfied with the work and so was everyone around me. Then I fell into a bit of a rabbit hole. Nothing was making me happy – not work, not life. So I hired a personal coach and began looking around for what would make me happy. One of the people I encountered was Tara Sophia Mohr. She writes a lot about playing big and living out loud. These questions came in her year-end e-mail. I’m going to tackle them just so I have a touch point to come back to for the coming year. 

 
1. Because I wanted to make 2013 count, I…will play big and stare down whatever fear is currently in my heart.
 
2. Because fear of failure was no longer a good enough reason to not do it, in 2013 I…will attack problems head on and be braver when it’s time to speak up.
 
3. Because I listened to the whispers inside, in 2013 I…will make sure those whispers are speaking kind words about me and the people around me.
4. Because the things that brought me joy in childhood still do, in 2013 I…will ride my bike more. I forget how much I love it until I’m on it.
 
5. Because simple pleasures are so rich, in 2013 I…will cook more meals and share them with my family.
6. Because my body has served me so beautifully all these years, in 2013 I…will start a yoga practice and be more mindful of what I put into it. What does not serve me will be gone.
 
7. Because the world needs my service, in 2013 I…will teach. I want to put together some fiber class descriptions and send them to places that need teachers.
 
8. Because of the remarkable people who have loved me and made me who I am, in 2013 I…will tell them how much they mean to me every time I see them.
 
9. Because I am willing to believe in the power of forgiveness, in 2013 I…will be kinder to people who I feel have done me wrong. I will apologize first and leave old hurts in the past.
 
10. Because the silence has gone on long enough, in 2013 I…will keep speaking up – again and again if necessary, until I am heard.
 
11. Because I am so blessed, in 2013 I…will continue to look for people and projects that are in need. Kiva and Kickstarter will be seeing a lot of me this year.
 
12. Because I vowed to be more radical, in 2013 I…will worry less what other people are thinking.

13. Because I wanted, in the last days of my life, to remember this year with tears of gratitude, in 2013 I…will be me. I will be grateful for every single day for the opportunities I’m given.

Allergies*

I’m sure I’ve talked at some point about my allergies, but not recently. Is there anyone in the US who isn’t allergic to something? I don’t think so. Here’s the thing, I’m allergic, but to weird stuff and it’s taken me years to figure it out. 


When the Hub and I came back from our honeymoon (1988), I was sick a lot. I would get up to go to work and feel so crappy that I’d just go back to bed. It took us 2 months to figure out that I was allergic to the flannel sheets we had bought at L.L. Bean – vicious cycle! Over the years, I’ve discovered that I’m also allergic to latex, bananas, and kiwi – they all come from the same kind of plant, so they’re all related and they all cause me to break out in hives.


I went through a really bad patch several years ago where I was tested for auto-immune disease (lupus, Cushings, rheumatoid arthritis) and they came up empty handed. My diagnosis was ultimately “chronic idiopathic urticaria”. Which essentially means that sometimes I have hives and no one can figure out what causes them. I take fexo-fenadine daily and that seems to have pushed them into submission.


Yesterday I was sitting in a meeting and I feel this weird spot on my chin. It was a cross between an itch and a crawling sensation. I touched my chin and felt a pea-sized lump and as soon as I touched it, it exploded in itchiness. I’m sitting across the table from my boss and I can feel my chin and lip start to swell up and itch like nobody’s business, but I can’t go anywhere or do anything about it.


By the time the meeting was over, my lower lip was completely hard to the touch and my chin was hot and bright red. When I got home, my daughter said, “Your mouth looks crooked.” Everything was so swollen that it was pushing my face out of whack. Extra anti-histamines took care of it, but it was still a little swollen this morning.


I try to figure out what causes each episode, because that’s the only way I can avoid the trigger. So, we were talking about it at breakfast and decided that maybe one of the people I shook hands with before the meeting yesterday had eaten a banana. Since I am incapable of not touching my face at any time, I must have transferred the allergen to myself during the course of the meeting. Am I destined to become one of those people who go around not shaking hands and instead have to bow to people?




*You’ll forgive me for not posting a picture. I actually Googled them and started itching just look at the images.

Today, I’m done

I left it all on the course today. I was up at 4:30, out the door by 5:30, in my office by 6:40. It was a non-stop e-mail, telephone, people walking into my office kind of day. Everyone needed something 10 minutes ago and it was REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT !!eleventy!1!!.


So, now I’m back at home and I’m done. I want to crawl into my bed, turn off the light, fall into the deepest slumber ever, and not wake up until my alarm goes off tomorrow morning. Good night.

Review “Mad Men”

I love this show. The Hub and I started watching over the holiday break (he wasn’t as into it as I was). We sped through seasons 1 and 2 and then he went to Florida to teach some people how to fly. I wanted to make it last and only rent 1 disk at a time. Yesterday I was feeling so crappy that I threw caution to the wind and rented the first 2 disks of season 3. Then I sat and watched them both. (Now I’m kind of sad that I don’t have any to watch tonight.)


Why do I love it? It feels real to me. There are a few shows of which I have been a regular watcher as an adult, perhaps even a rabid watcher (The West Wing, I’ll Fly Away). In the case of West Wing (1999-2006), I loved it because it was how I wanted government to be – peopled with really smart people with the courage of their convictions. They worked and played hard and they argued, but always came back together. I’ll Fly Away (1991-1993) was the story of a family caught up in social upheaval – how they and the people around them reacted. They were confused, angry, and struggled to do the right thing. I never missed an episode of these shows because they transported me to a different place. Mad Men does that for me too.


During the first season, there were times when I had to walk away from the television. The casual demeaning of the secretaries – hell the forceful demeaning of any woman who stepped out of line. It was especially bad when the women did it to each other. I still click my tongue every now and again, but I can put it in the box of “the ’60s” and move on.


Did they drink and smoke that much in the 1960s? I don’t know – but again, it feels real. I do remember my parents had a bar set up in our house. They didn’t think twice about getting hammered at a party and then driving home. My dad would frequently stop at a bar to have drinks with co-workers after work and we lived in the midwest. I can imagine this is fairly true of a place like New York City. 


Everyone I knew had ashtrays all around the house. We had a couple that were actually free-standing and quite decorative. My dad even had a hookah. I remember people smoking in grocery stores and doctors offices. Hub and I decided that if we wanted to get completely lit, all we’d have to do is take a drink every time someone lit a cigarette. It would take 2 episodes, max, before I’d have to go lie down.


The bad marriages, the sleeping around, the closeted gays, the career “girls” who only worked until they got married – it all feels real. The added bonus is the visual impact of the show. The clothing, the furniture, the cars – those are the colors and styles I remember from my childhood.


I watch because the characters are intelligent people who don’t always know what they want, but keep moving forward. They struggle against the social mores and the narrow roles forced on them and it makes me want to assure them that things get better. It also makes me realize how far we actually have come and lets me hope that 40 years into the future there will be a television program that shows this time period and maybe it will make some sense.

Teeth

Last Thursday I went to the dentist, a place I’ve been to much too often in the last several months. I’m a grinder – not only at night when sleeping, but during the day, when annoyed. So I had a toothache and called the dentist. It’s a tooth that’s been hurting on a minor scale for a couple of weeks, but it has a really deep filling and I knew that at some point I would need a root canal and a crown.

She numbed my mouth and we chatted. Then she started the drill and I saw white sparks and thought I was going to come out of the chair. She put more numbing in and we chatted. The drill started and the pain was just as bad. She put MORE numbing in and went in really, really deep (it brought tears to my eyes). Then she went away for 20 minutes or so.


When she came back and started drilling again, the pain was right there. She decided I had a “hot tooth” (abscess) and gave me a prescription for antibiotics. I walked out in very little pain but half my head was numb. When the Novocaine wore off, it hurt – a lot.


So I’ve been taking antibiotics since Thursday afternoon and here it is Monday. The problem is, my jaw still hurts. I suspect that I actually have 2 teeth that are bad (right next to each other) and it’s the other tooth that’s hurting so much, but I can’t tell the difference because they’re too close.


I am not looking forward to this dentist visit. Either way, I’ll be numb and in pain when I leave. It’s making my head hurt just thinking about it.




Edited to add:
Only 1 root canal was necessary {jazz hands}! However, the pocket of infection was still so big that it blocked the novocaine and I spent a good 3 minutes digging my fingernails into the armrests of the chair while she drilled. As soon as the dentist broke through the filling, she was shooting novocaine directly onto the root of the tooth. Then she let me sit up for a few minutes to breath and relax. Now all that’s left is the grinding and the crown.

Dolly come home!!

That’s Dolly. She’s our 6.5 year old Brittany Spaniel and she’s missing. My son let her out while he put his boots on yesterday afternoon (4:00 pm) and when he went out to walk her, less than 10 minutes later, she was gone. The kids looked and looked and even my mother-in-law drove Little Big Man around looking.

I’ve put an add up on Craig’s list as well as a lost dog post at our county’s humane society. I’ll be calling the humane society in the next county over to see if they have her. I’ve printed 200 fliers that we’ll post around our house and the kids will be canvassing the neighbors today. I can’t think of anything else to do.


We live in a very rural area – she could be anywhere. There’s also a possibility that someone picked her up. We were never able to instill stranger danger in this dog. Once one of Little Big Man’s friends was coming over for a LAN party and his dad helped him carry in all of his equipment. The dad left and we were calling and calling for Dolly. A few minutes later the dad drove back up the driveway. Dolly had climbed into his car and didn’t come out until he was down the road. If someone was nice to her, she’d get in their car without a problem.


What absolutely shreds me is thinking that maybe she got hit by a car and is lying somewhere hurt and can’t get home. That wee little head thinking “Where are my people?”

Edited to add:
She’s home! The kids went out this morning, spoke to several neighbors, and handed out pictures. About 12:30 a woman called and said, “My dad has your dog” and gave me his address. Little Big Man went over and picked her up.


Apparently, the man walked out of his house to do some errands this morning and she was sitting on his lawn. When he came back at noon, she was still there…waiting. He called his daughter about “this little dog” and she called me. Happy, happy day!

2012: A Roadmap

I’ve been a follower of David Allen off and on for the last 3 years (or so). I don’t always follow GTD (Getting Things Done) to the letter and frequently do exactly what Allen says not to do, which is pick and choose what I want to do and leave the rest for “later” – of course “later” rarely comes.

Every January, Allen sends off an e-mail talking about what he does to review the past year and his plans for the new year. I have tried to do this and answer the questions, but it gets too hard and I quit. I’m going to take a little different tack this year and not try to review 2011, but I’m going to plan what to do in 2012. 

Is this more avoidance? Maybe. My problem in the past has been that I get bogged down trying to figure out what I did and never get to the planning for the future part. I need to start where I am and go from there. 

So, to that end, these are David Allen’s questions for the upcoming year:
Creating the new year

  • What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2012?
    • work: get a grant funded
    • cjkoho: have gross sales of $5,000
    • personal: ride 500 miles on my bike
    • personal: pay down enough debt to be able to buy a car

  • What advice would you like to give yourself in 2012?
    • keep the agreements I make with myself
    • plan big projects and ship them


  • What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in 2012?
    • personal: pack lunch instead of buying at the work cafeteria
    • personal: think about every cent I spend
      • is it necessary?
      • is there a less expensive alternative? 
      • need v. want
    • cjkoho: keep the Etsy shop fully stocked and ready for orders
    • cjkoho: work the shows I’m at – no sitting and waiting for people to ask questions – anticipate what they’re going to ask – sell, sell, sell (without being obnoxious)


  • What would you be most happy about completing in 2012?
    • work: getting the grant I’ve been chasing for 3 years
    • cjkoho: a successful show season (see gross sales comment above)
    • personal: riding my bike, feeling healthier


  • What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2012?

 

  • What would you most like to change about yourself in 2012?
    • curtail procrastination (I would say eliminate, but let’s be realistic here)
    • avoidance of the things I want/need to do because they’re “hard”


  • What are you looking forward to learning in 2012?
    • work: SoCRA certification (for clinical research professionals)
    • personal: seeing how far I can go on my bike
    • cjkoho: pushing my dyeing/spinning to new heights


  • What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2012?
    •  the art piece I’ve committed to exhibiting in February

 

  • What about your work, are you most committed to changing and improving in 2012?
    • stop thinking about it and do it
    • work through the hard bits because they’re never as hard as I think they’re going to be
    • become the employee I would want to hire


  • What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2012?
    •  they’re all undeveloped talents, aren’t they? or maybe just under-developed
      • blog writing
      • dyeing
      • spinning
      • strength training

 

  • What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2012?
    • riding my bike
      • make the commitment and go
      • work through the fear of heading out the door
    • spinning
      • commit to a small amount of time every single day

  • Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in 2012?
    • my children
    • my spouse
    • my fiber friends


  • What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2012?
    •  momentum