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Posts Tagged ‘20 for 2020’

2019 was a terrific year for me. I had made significant strides in different areas of my life (health, home, acting). Along with so many people, I was excited about 2020. I felt like it was going to be my year to make a breakthrough as an actor. I started improv classes in January. I knew from the very first class that improv was going to be an important piece of the puzzle concerning my acting career. In February, I completed a series of private sessions with my acting coach, Lance Nichols, and we had outlined acting goals for the remainder of the year. And, then COVID-19 derailed everything in early March. 

Since 2018, I have made a list of tangible goals to accomplish throughout the year with that year setting the number of items on the list. I got this fun idea three years ago from Gretchen Rubin, who is the author of The Happiness Project. In 2018, I completed 14 of the items on my 18 for 2018 list. In 2019, I completed 11 of the items on my 19 for 2019 list. In 2020, I have only completed 5 of the items on my 20 for 2020 list. For me, like for many people all over the world, the pandemic affected the accomplishment of several items on my list this year.

Therefore, let’s start with my 5 accomplishments. I took my first improv class (#7) back in January. Since we can’t meet in person for classes, my improv teacher, David Hamilton, graciously offers bimonthly virtual hangouts to his students to keep our improv muscles in shape. What an awesome gift! I read So You Want to Start a Podcast by Kristen Meinzer (#3). Reading this book has taken my desire to create a podcast to the next level. I finally bought new bras (#12). I found a new eye doctor and scheduled an appointment for January 2021 (#14). Lastly, I spent the summer with Poe (#16) by reading a great deal of Edgar Allan Poe’s work.

There are 3 items on my list that I almost completed, but couldn’t quite finish. Is there a possibility I can complete them by the end of 2020? Anything is possible, but it seems highly unlikely with other activities that I have planned between now and the end of the year.

  • #8 Organize the home office. (moved in, not completely organized)
  • #18 Complete Andrew’s Ireland scrapbook. (several layouts lack journaling)
  • #19 Organize my master bedroom closet. (two attempts made, with so much more to do)

There are 4 items on my list that were impacted directly by the pandemic, so I was unable to complete them the way I would normally.

  • #6 Get professional headshots.
  • #11 Try 20 new restaurants. (only tried 8 due to restrictions; 2 of the 8, curbside pickup)
  • #15 Host a Bunco party.
  • #20 Run a 5K. 

There are 7 items on my list that I made NO attempt to complete. Lack of motivation and poor time management are the culprits for not accomplishing these items. I definitely had the time to complete them.

  • #1 Create a vision board.
  • #2 Read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
  • #4 Try intermittent fasting. (Clean & Lean)
  • #9 Organize the kitchen pantry.
  • #10 Learn ways of living sustainably to be more eco-friendly.
  • #13 Write a will.
  • #17 Take Becky Higgins Classroom: Photo Tips + Workflow

Last but not least, there is 1 item on my list that I failed to complete in the most miserable way. And, there are NO excuses. I did not lose 20 pounds (#5) this year. In fact, I gained weight and added two more pounds to my blubber. As of today, I am 161 pounds which makes me about 40 pounds overweight. I won’t sugarcoat the situation, even though sugar plays a big part. As I have written in previous posts this year, I have the knowledge. Apparently, I lack the desire to make health and wellness a priority as demonstrated by a weight gain instead of a weight loss. 

Indeed, dear reader, I am not humming Beck’s “Loser.” There is no need to beat myself up or get down on myself. Am I disappointed? Sure, only because I had expectations. Keep in mind, I may not have accomplished most of the items on my 20 for 2020 list, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t accomplish other things this year. Life certainly can be unpredictable, as illustrated by this year, and uncertainty can wholeheartedly make us anxious, frustrated, and unhappy. However, unpredictability can also be adventurous, interesting, and exciting. Maybe that is one reason why I’m drawn to the art of improv. Therefore, I choose the latter attitude towards unpredictability. For me, making this type of list is a more enjoyable approach to achieving goals than traditional New Year’s resolutions. It will definitely not thwart my intentions of making a 21 for 2021 list. In fact, I’m looking forward to making a list for next year. I already have ideas swirling around in my head as well as my one-word theme for 2021. Happiness!

“The unpredictability of the future means absolutely nothing to the dreams of an ambitious positive mind.” ~ Edmond Mbiaka

 

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When I created my 20 for 2020 list back in December of 2019, I had no idea that a world-wide pandemic was looming large on the horizon. One of my items on this year’s list was to try 20 new restaurants (#11). I do not eat out often, so I figured when given the opportunity to dine out, try somewhere new. I have already shared on my blog three restaurants that I have tried so far: Pho NOLA, Oceana, and Cena. Let me catch you up to speed on a few others I have also tried up to this point.

There are two restaurants that I tried this year that were take-out only. Back in July, I was scrapbooking with Shelly at her house. We convinced her hubby to pick up lunch for us from The Real Deal: An American Kitchen located in Hammond. This restaurant is run by an award winning BBQ pitmaster and specializes in BBQ brisket, pork, burgers, chicken, and ribs. I ordered red beans and rice with smoked sausage instead of BBQ. I was starving by the time our food arrived, so I failed to take a picture. I did enjoy their red beans and rice; however, when I order from this restaurant again, I will select a BBQ item. Back in September, my Daddy came over to help my hubby install crown moulding in our foyer area. We ordered lunch from Twisted Tomato Pizzeria in Hammond. I ordered a yummy BLT pizza. Everyone was pleased with the selections they had chosen. Since then, we have ordered again from this restaurant.

In October, my high school friend Helen came to visit from Colorado and stayed with Shelly and her family. Since it had been many years since her last visit to the area, she had a few restaurant requests. Luckily, I had not eaten at two of the restaurants on her list. Our first stop was Blue Tomato on Jefferson Hwy. in Jefferson Parish. It is an eclectic restaurant that features Mexican, Italian, and American cuisine. Helen, Shelly, my hubby and I met Helen’s sister Valenna and her husband Leroy at the restaurant. Helen recommended the Bacon Cheeseburger, so that is what I ordered along with a side of French fries. The burger was huge and scrumptious! Blue Tomato is definitely worth a visit if you are in the area, dear reader.

The second restaurant that my hubby and I tried during Helen’s visit was Café Maspero in New Orleans. Helen’s main reason for wanting to eat at Café Maspero was the muffaletta. For my dear readers not from New Orleans, a muffaletta is a sandwich with ham and salami piled high on a seeded bun topped with swiss cheese and olive salad. There are variations of seeded bread, meats (pastrami, mortadella), and cheeses (provolone) used to make this sandwich, depending on which restaurant you order your muffaletta. The sandwich can be served cold or toasted. Personally, I am not a fan of the muffaletta, so the hubster and I split a golden fried seafood platter that consisted of fish, Gulf shrimp, calamari, jalapeno hush puppies, and steak fries. Barry and I decided to split the seafood platter because we were having beignets from Café Du Monde later in the day. We thoroughly enjoyed both the seafood platter and the beignets.  

The last new restaurant that Barry, Sr. and I tried was Margaritas in Hammond on 24 October. After seeing The Nightmare Before Christmas at the movie theatre, we decided to grab something to eat nearby. The first thing to catch my eye when walking into the restaurant was its colorful décor. We sat in a booth where the back of each seat had a pretty, vibrant panel. Barry had a radiant yellow sun behind him, and I had a hummingbird with brightly colored flowers behind me. I ordered a small Mango Margarita and items off of the à la carte section of the menu which consisted of a hard beef taco, a beef enchilada, and a tamale. Barry ordered a combo plate and a beer. We were both pleased with our dinner choices.  

Well, dear reader, I have only tried eight new restaurants this year. In a normal year, I could have easily met my goal. Unfortunately, that will not be the case this year. I have decided that I will add the remaining 12 new restaurants on my 21 for 2021 list. Hopefully, I can try one new restaurant each month in 2021. What new restaurants have you tried this year, and would you recommend them? Happiness!

“The preparation of good food is merely another expression of art, one of the joys of civilized living.” ~ Dione Lucas 

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I bought tickets for Barry and me to attend the screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show as part of my Halloween Fun list during the month of October. We had not seen the movie in a theatre in over 30 years. In fact, the first time I had ever seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Barry and I were dating at the time and living on the south shore. We had gone with my BFF Shelly and Barry’s friend Danny. Back then, you attended the movie at midnight and brought your own props. Since this screening was at the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts in Hammond, props were being provided by the theatre and the screening was at 9:00 in the evening.

Our original plans were to see the movie on Friday, 09 October; however, Hurricane Delta put a kink in our plans, and our show was postponed until Friday, 16 October. I was grateful the movie was postponed and not canceled. Before we attended The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Barry and I had dinner at Cena in Hammond. 

Cena

Cena specializes in Italian comfort food. Ironically, I had received a gift card for this restaurant as a teacher appreciation gift back in May when we were quarantined and could not dine in restaurants. So, I was excited that we were finally able to dine there. Additionally, eating at Cena would count as trying a new restaurant (#11 on 20 for 2020 list). There are still COVID restrictions regarding restaurant dining, so Barry and I ate at an outside table which was nice, especially since it was a pleasantly cool evening. 

Barry and I dining outside at Cena in Hammond

Barry and I decided to start the evening with cocktails. I ordered a Grapefruit Martini, and he ordered a Lemon Spritzer. We agreed to skip the appetizer. I ordered Shrimp and Grits for my entrée. YUMMO! The dish consisted of Gulf shrimp and grits in a delicious Louisiana BBQ butter sauce, topped with fried okra, crispy prosciutto, and asparagus. The meal was accompanied with a piece of garlic bread. Barry ordered the Casarecce which was a house-made pasta consisting of Gulf shrimp, spicy tomato sauce, fresh basil, and feta cheese. To complete our dining experience, we decided to split a dessert. What a treat! We ordered “The” Cannoli and we were not disappointed. This delectable delight comprised of two crunchy, tube-shaped pastries filled with a sweet, creamy filling with chocolate chips, cinnamon, and two generous dollops of house-made pistachio ice cream. It was heavenly.  

 

After our scrumptious meal, we walked about three blocks to the Columbia Theatre. It was time for my hubby and me to do “The Time Warp.” As we entered the lobby of the theatre, ushers were asking guests if they were virgins. In this context, virgins are first timers who have never experienced the show in a theatre with an audience, a live cast (a shadow cast), and props. If you were a virgin, one of the ushers drew a “V” on your forehead with bright red lipstick. Once we were in the lobby, Barry and I received our prop bags. The bags included party poppers instead of rice (wedding and Frank/Rocky confetti), newspaper (thunderstorm), a rubber glove (snapping during Frank’s creation speech), a noisemaker (end of Frank’s creation speech), toilet paper (“Great Scott!), a party hat (dinner), a picture of toast (Frank’s toast at dinner), and playing cards (“Cards for sorrow/Cards for pain”). Guests used their own cellphone for light at Frank’s castle.

We took our seats and waited excitedly for the show to begin.

Once everyone was seated and before the show began, the master of ceremonies asked the virgins to stand up so everyone could see them. Some shows have virgins participate in a pre-show sacrificial ritual (totally harmless); however, our virgins had to socially distance. There was also a shadow cast at the front of the theater representing the characters in the movie. They all looked awesome in their costumes. Their role was to mime the actions on the screen and to lip-sync their character’s lines.

For those of you that do not know anything about The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it is a musical comedy horror film. The story is about a newly engaged couple whose car breaks down during a thunderstorm near a castle. In desperation, they go to the castle seeking a telephone, but soon discover the home is occupied for a celebration by strange guests dressed in elaborate costumes. They meet the owner of the castle, Dr. Frank N. Furter, who happens to not only be a mad scientist, but also an alien transvestite. Not long after their arrival, mayhem breaks out and the couple embark on a crazy adventure.

Finally, the lights went out, The Rocky Horror Picture Show commenced, and the audience went wild. Barry and I, along with the rest of the audience, participated in the “Time Warp” dance (my favorite scene of the movie). I was quite surprised and extremely happy that Barry got in on the act. We had a ball talking back to the screen, singing, and using our props throughout the movie. 

Five Fun Facts about The Rocky Horror Picture Show

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show was originally a small stage production in London called The Rocky Horror Show and was written by an out-of-work actor named Richard O’Brien.
  • The film was shot in the United Kingdom, premiered in 1975, and initially flopped. 
  • Audience participation was somewhat inspired by boredom. The film soon gained popularity because of fan participation.
  • The well-known lips at the beginning of the film belong to the actor Patricia Quinn who plays Magenta. However, she lip-syncs the song as it is sung by the actor Richard O’Brien who plays Riff Raff.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the longest-running theatrical release in film history. 

My hubby and I had a wonderful date night, dear reader. We enjoyed an incredible meal together at a new restaurant and interacted with a cult classic in a theatre full of Rocky Horror fans. Happiness! 

“I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.” ~ the Criminologist, The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Science Fiction/Double Feature (click on the caption to the left to hear the song)

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Reading is my favorite way to pass time, so I added a new reading goal for 2020 inspired by Gretchen Rubin, the author of The Happiness Project. In 2019, as part of her yearly Design Your Summer and 19 for 2019, she took a literary adventure with Summer of Proust. After reading her blog post “Reflections on My ‘Summer of Proust'” and seeing how much she enjoyed reading all the works of Marcel Proust, I decided I wanted a “Summer of Poe” and put it on my 20 for 2020 list (#16). What a fantastic idea!

Edgar Allan Poe is one of my favorite American authors. My love affair with Poe’s work began in the 8th grade when I chose to recite the poem “Annabel Lee” for my Reading class. Throughout high school and college, Poe was assigned literature for English classes which always brought me considerable joy. As a junior high English teacher, I felt it was only fitting to impart my love for Poe to my students. For years, my students and I read and discussed “The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Black Cat,” and “The Raven.” Therefore, choosing to spend the summer reading one author’s work was a no-brainer. 

PoeUnlike Rubin, I did no preparation prior to reading Poe’s work like she did for Proust. In hindsight, I probably should have done a smidge before starting my own literary adventure. From the beginning, I knew the odds of me reading everything written by Poe in one summer would be impossible. One reason, his writing is challenging. I personally cannot read his work quickly. Another reason, because his writing requires so much concentration on my part, I knew I would also need to read other books written by other authors that did not require so much mental effort. Therefore, I chose to read The Edgar Allan Poe: Anthology of Classic Tales since it did not contain a complete collection of Poe’s stories and poems, and it was given to me as a gift from Andrew. To my dismay, while perusing the table of contents, I soon discovered that over my lifetime I had only read six of his short stories and two of his poems. Thankfully, that is no longer the case.

I chose to read all of the short stories, poems, and the one novel, which were organized by genre, in the order presented in the anthology.  It was wonderful to revisit tales that I was familiar with like “The Fall of the House of Usher” (still scary after all these years), “William Wilson,” “The Pit and the Pendulum,” “The Masque of the Red Death” (haunting), “The Tell-Tale Heart” (never gets old), “The Black Cat,” “The Raven” (nevermore), and “Annabel Lee” (beautifully written poem about death). If you notice, dear reader, the tales of Poe that I have previously read over the years are included in the horror genre. And, I must confess, his short stories and poems in this category are quite riveting and are probably my most preferred of his writing. Of my new horror favorites, two are revenge stories, “The Cask of Amontillado” (confirms that I will never visit catacombs) and “Hop-Frog” (never underestimate a jester). “Morella” and “Ligeia” are equally creepy and best read during the day. 

My leisurely excursion through this treasury revealed to me that Poe was so much more than a horror writer. He is credited with inventing the detective story, and the two stories in this collection, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” are suspenseful and quite enjoyable. There are seven short stories and his only completed novel under Adventures of Sea and Sky. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the short stories, especially “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall,” “The Gold-Bug,” and “The Oblong Box.” “Mellonta Tauta,” which is set in the far future seems to eerily parallel our current societal times with the past of the narrator who is writing letters while on a balloon flight.  His novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, is about the adventures and misadventures of Arthur Gordon Pym on the high seas. While it took me a long time to read, this novel is interesting and entertaining. At some point in my lifetime, I will revisit it. Surprisingly to me, until I read this compilation, I was unaware that Poe wrote humorous and satirical stories. There are only three of those types of stories in this book; however, in my other book Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, there are a total of 25 stories. Of the three that I read, I adore “The Spectacles” and “The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether.” Both are incredibly amusing. I cannot wait to read his other stories in this genre. Finally, there are only four poems in this collection, and I fancy all four of them. When checking my other book, Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe, it revealed a total of 55 poems. All gems, I’m sure. 

My “Summer of Poe” was a huge happiness boost and has made living through a pandemic more bearable. Clearly, I still have so many more stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe that I must read, so another “season” of Poe is necessary. In the meantime, I will delight in the stories and the poems that I have read by Mr. Poe as I venture into a realm of other books by other authors awaiting my discovery. Have you, dear reader, ever devoted a period of time to reading a certain author or genre? If not, would you consider it, and which author or which genre would you consider? Happiness!

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe Collection

 

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A few changes or a parting of ways of sorts has taken place in my household in the last couple of weeks. Ending relationships are generally associated with people or organizations; however, I think you can also end a relationship with things that have performed an important function in your life. And, while the loss of the relationship with an item may not be as impactful as with a person, the attachment to that item, especially if the relationship with it was lengthy, can elicit a slight pang of melancholy at the point of separation.

This past Wednesday, I parted ways with my lower back tooth on the left side of my mouth. I had been having discomfort with the tooth since the beginning of March and had every intention of going to the dentist at the end of that month. COVID had other plans, and my dental visit didn’t occur until the end of May when I received the delightful news that my tooth had a fracture and would need to be extracted. Two months later, my tooth is gone and has been replaced with bone and barrier with a possible implant in my future. Even though parting ways with my tooth has been painful these last few days, my future self will be grateful to no longer feeling discomfort after every meal.

2005 CorollaParting ways with my money is almost as painful as saying au revoir to my tooth. However, when an special opportunity presents itself, you let go of the dough. My friends were selling their 2011 Mazda3 for a good price which meant Andrew could drive a newer car. Therefore, last Friday, we bought their car for Andrew which left us needing to get rid of the car he was currently driving. This past Friday, Barry and I parted ways with our 2005 maroon Toyota Corolla at A & B Motors, a salvage yard in Amite. It was a bittersweet moment as we pulled away from the parking lot. That Corolla (a car that we owned the longest of any vehicle) was a fantastic car that provided many miles (261,163 to be exact) of enjoyment and reliability.

And, while we are on the subject of parting ways with our moolah, my hubby and I had to shell out some cash for a new water heater; because after 21 years, ours decided to call it quits. Like our Corolla, it provided us with many years of enjoyment (love those hot showers) and reliability. Thankfully, I married a handyman who with the help of Son #1 could install the new one.

The last item or items that I have parted ways with this week are the 19 pairs of running shoes that have been residing on the floor of my master bedroom closet. Yes, this is the same closet that I have been needing to clean out and reorganize for the last two years. A friend of mine at school needs shoelaces for a science lesson, so I decided what a wonderful way to jumpstart the organization of my master bedroom closet (#19 on my 20 for 2020 list). By finally getting rid of all of my running shoes that have accumulated in there over the last couple of years, I have made a small dent in the mess and have ignited a flame of inspiration to complete that task and will hopefully carry over to other areas of the house (pantry and hall closet).

Parting ways with my tooth, the water heater, our old car, and my worn-out running shoes, not to mention the money to replace them with newer or better ones, has made me more grateful for the gift of service each item provided for my family and me. An attitude of gratitude is a lovely frame of mind to embody in everyday life. From the ordinary to the extraordinary, dear reader, gratitude can produce happiness and joy. Now, if I could just part ways quickly with my excess weight and credit card debt… Happiness!

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.” ~ G.K. Chesterton

Running Shoes

 

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Jackson SquareA month ago, my hubby and I stayed overnight at the Blake Hotel in New Orleans. Since he travels a great deal for work, he occasionally receives a free stay at a hotel. With COVID-19 cancelling plans and limiting activities this summer, we decided to take advantage of the change of scenery. Between me working as a supervisor for the ACT at Southeastern earlier in the day and restrictions in the city, we knew we would not be able to do much in New Orleans except maybe enjoy a nice dinner and go for a short walk around the French Quarter.

Fortunately, that Saturday (June 13th) Phase 2 was implemented for the city. We had originally planned to eat dinner at the hotel; however, the hotel was only serving breakfast and lunch. The front desk clerk made a few suggestions of restaurants that would be open and gave us a couple of brochures with menus. So, after looking over the menus, we decided to call Oceana to see if we could dine in and if we needed to make reservations. As luck would have it, we did not have to make reservations, and we could eat in the restaurant. Additionally, eating at Oceana would count as trying a new restaurant (#11 on 20 for 2020 list). It would be the second new restaurant that I have tried this year.

Oceana-tiniWe were greeted by a friendly hostess who asked us to write our names and phone numbers in a notebook before being seated. Apparently, due to COVID, this is a social practice for restaurants in New Orleans. Appropriate social distancing was implemented within the dining area, so we felt comfortable. Emily was our waitress for the evening. She was lovely and took great care of us throughout the meal. Since this was the first time eating out in New Orleans in some time and probably would be the last for quite awhile, we opted to splurge. We started the evening off with Eggplantcocktails. I chose the Oceana-tini (Absolut Vodka, Bols Sour Apple Pucker, Midori, & a touch of sour mix) and the hubster ordered a beer. Our appetizer was fried eggplant sticks. Yummy, crispy, and not greasy! I love fried eggplant, but I do not prepare it at home. When given the chance to order it while dining out, I take it. Next up, the entrees!

I ordered the Mardi Gras Pasta, and Barry chose Blackened Catfish. Our chef did not disappoint us. Our meals were scrumptious, and we both ate every last bite.

Mardi Gras pasta

Mardi Gras Pasta

Blackened Catfish

Blackened Catfish

NOLA Bread PuddingWhen Emily approached us about dessert, we ordered the New Orleans Bread Pudding (to split) without hesitation. I adore bread pudding, and there are so many ways it can be prepared, so I rarely pass up the opportunity to indulge in such a delightful treat. Yum-yum…yum-yum-yum! It was one of the finest bread puddings that I have ever eaten. I’m actually fantasizing about it right now.

Of course, after eating all of that delicious food and feeling like a pregnant whale, we had to walk around to let our meals digest. Unbeknownst to us, we were about to get a surprising eyeful. One of the restrictions that was lifted in Phase 2 was the opening of bars. While there were not nearly as many people frequenting the bars on Bourbon Street as on a normal Saturday evening, there were more than we expected considering social distancing limitations. Anyway, as we were strolling along, I spotted butt cheeks (three sets in fact) through the open doorway of one of the bars. Imagine my surprise! At the exact moment that I am telling Barry what I had seen, a group of scantily clad bike riders passed right in front of us. We didn’t find out until the next day that we had witnessed World Naked Bike Ride NOLA. You really never know what sights you will see in the French Quarter.

We returned to our hotel to enjoy the rest of our evening. The next morning we had a pleasant breakfast at the hotel restaurant, Café at the Square. Shortly afterwards, we headed home. Our overnight trip may have been brief and lacked some of the bells and whistles the city of New Orleans normally offers; however, Barry and I had a fantastic time because we were together, and we rather enjoyed the change of scenery without the usual hubbub. Happiness!

Kat & Barry-Oceana

“A change of scenery can help everything.” ~ Drew Pomeranz

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June has come and gone, and yesterday America celebrated Independence Day. Due to the impending bad weather and social distancing, I spent the day at home. I walked in the morning, read some, and finally wrapped up answering some questions from Mind Over Weight that I needed to answer before rebooting (again) my exercise/clean eating routine. Needless to say, I was not successful with getting back on track with eating properly or incorporating additional exercise into my daily routine. Clearly, I was not really ready to change my indolent ways. So, since I have now listed all the reasons I want to take this journey, selected some motivational strategies to keep me on track, and created an action plan with some realistic goals, I think (eye roll) I’m ready to take the first step starting tomorrow morning.

I have two main goals:

  • Lose 20 pounds (#5 on my 20 for 2020) by 06 December 2020. I weighed in this morning at 159 pounds. I haven’t lost anything since June 1st, but I also haven’t gained anything.
  • Run a 5K (#20 on my 20 for 2020) by the end of 2020. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has currently halted road races. Therefore, if I cannot actually register to run a race in 2020, I will have to create my own 5K. I ordered new running shoes which should arrive sometime this week. I will start my run/walk program next Monday.

I must think about my future self. Obviously, I am not getting any younger. If I do not commit to a healthier me TODAY, it is evidently not important enough to pursue, and my future self will be the one that suffers when it’s all said and done. If not now, when? Without sounding overly dramatic, the answer is never. I have made the decision that if I cannot change my ways in the health and wellness area of my life at this point in time, then I’m done. I’m tired of talking about it. I’m tired of thinking about it. Frankly, I’m tired of dealing with it.

Additionally, I will be spending the next 30 days breaking up with my phone. A couple of weeks ago, I listened to Episode #6 (“Dial D for Distracted”) of Season 2 of The Happiness Lab podcast. It was an eye-opening conversation between Dr. Laurie Santos and Catherine Price, a science journalist and author of How to Break Up With Your Phone. Yes, I bought the book! Sadly, I am addicted to my phone, and COVID-19 has added fuel to that fire. In order to protect my brain, I must reevaluate the relationship I have with my phone and set some boundaries with it.

The next few weeks of my life should be interesting, dear reader. I’ll be going through withdrawals from sugar, a breakup, and the pain of having a tooth extracted, so approach with caution if you see me in public. I hope my future self appreciates everything that I’m doing for her. Happiness!

“If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? But when I am for myself, then what am “I”? And if not now, when?” ~ Hillel the Elder

Books & Coffee Cup

 

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Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans for this summer will definitely look a bit different than past summers. Shelly and I will NOT be attending Elton John’s concert or participating in our annual scrapbook convention with Heather and Donna this month. My family and I will not being going on any vacations in the near future. And, I now have to wait until December to see my friend’s daughter get married to her sweetheart. Although having plans upended stinks, I refuse to be glum. My cancelled plans pale in comparison to the cancelled graduations, cancelled trips to Italy or Costa Rica, or postponed weddings. Life is too short to sulk; therefore, I plan to make the most of my summer break.

Naturally, since I work in education, I will have to deal with school-related tasks or report to school occasionally for meetings. Fortunately, I will not be working all summer long. In addition, I have various self-care appointments scheduled throughout the next several weeks. This leaves oodles of time to engage in all sorts of creative and enjoyable activities.

Kat’s Summertime Fun List

  • Spending time with friends and family
  • Reading and rereading all the works of Edgar Allan Poe, as in the “Summer of Poe”
  • Performing Improv (virtual hangouts/classes)
  • Scrapbooking
  • Gardening, as in flowers and plants
  • Exercising
  • Cooking, as in trying new recipes
  • Tackling tasks on my 20 for 2020 list
  • Discovering new cocktails

Of course, my summertime fun list is flexible and more activities can be added to it. There is always the possibility that new ideas, projects, or events will pop up throughout the summer. What will you be doing differently this summer? I am always open to suggestions from you, dear reader. Happiness!

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

bench blur books color

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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June 2020 CalendarToday is the first day of June, and it falls on a Monday. What do I like about that fact? For me and my personality, I like to start a new fitness/diet routine on a Monday. I like the fact that it is a brand new month, a blank slate, which makes it mentally great for me to keep track of my progress. And, my summer break officially begins today. This summer I want to settle into a routine that encompasses several goals that I have set for myself. I am ready to make changes in different areas of my life which I have been ready to make for some time. Some changes have already been put into motion, some need action steps to set changes into motion while other changes need more time to come to fruition. Basically, I want to reboot some old routines and establish some new ones.

First order of business is rebooting my diet routine. Dear readers, I fell off the wagon hard during the mandated stay-at-home period due to COVID-19. I am an emotional eater and addicted to sugar. Therefore, it is no huge surprise that I ate my feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, and restlessness throughout the last two months in lockdown, and many of my food choices contained sugar. I lost 13.5 pounds before the new year and have gained 10 pounds back. Today, I weighed in at 159 pounds. It is what it is, and I do NOT plan to cry about it, dwell on it, or shame myself.

What is the goal? My goal is to lose 20 pounds (#5 on my 20 for 2020) this year starting TODAY. What is the plan? Increase my water intake, complete The Clean 20 program, replace emotional eating, and rev up my fitness routine. Thankfully, I have been walking daily since March 23rd. I need to add some strength training, cardio workouts, more stretching, and eventually running to my exercise regimen.

Mind Over WeightI recently finished reading Mind Over Weight written by Dr. Ian K. Smith, who is the author of The Clean 20. It is a wonderful little book that gave me a much-needed pep talk. I will be referring to this book for motivation throughout my weight loss journey. It has some terrific questions to reflect upon, tips on curbing cravings, and suggestions on dealing with emotional eating. Journaling and tracking my progress is also part of the plan.

The excitement of a new beginning energizes me, dear reader. There are so many avenues that I want to traverse this summer, and I invite you to tag along. I can always use encouragement and support from you, my tribe, since my mind likes to play tricks on me, inviting doubt and fear to put up roadblocks. Any routines that you want to reboot this summer or new ones that you want to establish? If so, please share, and we can encourage each other. Happiness!

“A daily routine built on good habits and disciplines separates the most successful among us from everyone else. The routine is exceptionally powerful.” ~ Darren Hardy

 

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It has been a little over a week since I went on my adventure to Pho NOLA with my awesome friend Michelle. She is quite adventurous when it comes to trying new restaurants and new foods, which usually entails a good bit of ethnic food. In addition to American fare, we have eaten Korean, Cuban, and Mexican together. Because of distance, we do not get to hang out together as much as I would like, so when an opportunity presents itself, I take it. I can always count on Michelle to suggest somewhere terrific for us to enjoy a fantastic meal and a wonderful conversation.

Meatball Pho

Meatball Pho

When deciding where to eat lunch, I shared with her that one of my 20 for 2020 (#11) was to try 20 new restaurants this year. Since I had never eaten Vietnamese food, she suggested Pho NOLA in Metairie. I relied totally on Michelle to help me order because I had no clue. Of course, on my first visit, I had to try the pho (pronounced fu).

Brisket Pho

Brisket Pho

For those of you not familiar with pho, it is a popular Vietnamese soup traditionally found on the streets of Vietnam that is served in restaurants globally. It consists of broth, rice noodles, herbs, and meat. The key ingredient in the soup is the broth which simmers for many hours. A variety of meats can be used, including chicken and shrimp.

Trying PhoI ordered a combo meal: meatball pho with a grilled shrimp Banh Mi, a Vietnamese PoBoy (sandwich). Michelle opted for the same, but ordered brisket pho. The bread used to make the sandwich comes from a well-known Vietnamese bakery in New Orleans East called Dong Phuong Bakery. The bakery is famous for their king cakes. I have not been fortunate enough to try one of their king cakes; however, the bread that was used to make my Banh Mi was delicious.

SmoothieMy first experience eating Vietnamese at Pho NOLA was gratifying. My food was scrumptious. The meatball pho was heavenly and a perfect choice for the cold day (warm with a perfect blend of seasonings). A basket was brought to the table with basil, cilantro, bean sprouts, and scallions to garnish the pho. I chose only to add bean sprouts and cilantro. My sandwich tasted fresh and flavorful with the right combination of grilled shrimp dressed with aioli (light mayo mixture), pickled carrots and daikon (radish), cucumber, and cilantro. YUMMO! We topped off lunch by ordering BOBA Smoothies with tapioca pearls. I requested a mango and pineapple smoothie (delicious), and Michelle requested an avocado one (equally delicious). She was sweet enough to let me taste her avocado smoothie. Now, I dream about these delightful concoctions. What a wonderful treat with my AMAZING friend! Pho NOLA was a hit and a perfect place to start trying twenty new restaurants this year.

Pho NOLAHaving lunch and spending time with Michelle is always a happiness boost. Trying a new restaurant AND a new cuisine with her was a joyful adventure. I will definitely eat Vietnamese cuisine again, and I look forward to trying the different types of pho. Dear reader, I highly recommend having an adventure eating a cuisine that you have never tried before or visiting a new restaurant. You can even be adventurous at a restaurant that you frequent often by trying something new. I’d loved to know what new foods or new restaurants that you have tried recently. Please share your adventures with me because I have 19 more new restaurants to try before the end of 2020.

“Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.” ~ Anthony Bourdain

 

 

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