Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Election Night 2016

It is election night in the United States of America tonight.  I haven't been watching the polls, but I haven't had to do so as my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of reports from those who are.  Right now it doesn't look good for those who believe that Donald Trump is the wrong choice to represent our country on the world stage.

I am one of those people.  I have made my feelings about him clear on many previous occasions to my friends and family, so I have no need to repeat the specifics here.  I just have to say that I am sad right now. I'm sad that so many people voted for fear, for hatred, and for division.  I'm sad that so many people who had the opportunity to make a difference for others voted from a position of privilege, feeling that their vague principles about the political system and how it is weighted against third parties were worth more than the actual lives of the people that a Trump Presidency will negatively effect in a very visceral way.

But all of that said, there is one thing I am NOT. I am NOT going anywhere.  There's talk (as there always is) about moving out of the country if one person or another wins.  That isn't me.

I'm here, and here I'm going to stay until they drag me away and lock me up for being who and what I am.

I'm here to keep fighting against the hatred that divides people of different color skins.

I'm here to keep fighting against the misogyny that tries to keep women from having an equal say in the world around them, and in their own lives.

I'm here to keep fighting for those who work multiple jobs and still can't afford to feed themselves or their families, or to keep a decent roof over their heads.

I'm here to keep fighting for those who are ill or suffering and are cast aside by the medical profession and insurance industry and pharmaceutical industry because they are "unprofitable".

I'm here to fight for the flora and fauna of this world who have no voices of their own and are slowly disappearing because of man's greed.

I'm here, and I'm staying here.  I am going to be a thorn in the side of those in power. I am going to take my frustration, and my anger, and I am going to turn them into determination and stubbornness.  They will begin to wince whenever they see my return address on a letter, my name on an email, my face in the hallway, or hear my voice chanting outside their windows.

I will not let them forget that their time is fleeting, their power not as great as they would like to imagine.  My time, the time of those who fight with me, and our power, is greater than any hatred, any greed, any selfishness or misogyny, greater than any institutional racism or ableism, greater than their oppression of anyone different will ever be.

I'm here, I'm not going anywhere, and I'm not alone.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Letting Go

The Husbeast and I did more Purging Of All The Things today.  Of all the things to sort through and decide what to keep and what to release into the wild, books have to be the hardest for me.  But we're going through our book collection and determining what we absolutely HAVE to keep in hard copy because we just can't be without it in paper form, what is not yet available in e-form, and what we can replace with e-books.  It isn't a happy decision, but we just have too much STUFF in the house, and we need the shelf space.

Some of the books going into that large box to my right have been with me since I was a teenager. They are over 30 years old.  I grew up reading them, escaping into them when the world got too mean for the Fat Kid to handle.  They took me to other worlds and other times.  Those books were a balm to my soul and a spark to my imagination.  Without them, I think, I would have turned into just another average person plodding through life with no idea of the wonders that surround me or the potential that the world holds.

Seeing them go into that box is difficult.  I almost started crying at one point.  But there does come a time when we have to let go of things while keeping the lessons they've taught us and the memories they've given us.  It feels like part of my soul is going away, but it also feels good in a way.  In doing this, we're making room for more memories, more lessons about the world and life and the possibilities therein.

I think that's why occasionally going through and doing a purge of your possessions is a smart idea. We need room to breathe, and to grow. If we're trapped in a cage of our own making, then there's nowhere for us to spread our wings and explore new ideas or new experiences.
I love my books.  I love what I learned from them.  I love the comfort I received from them. Now, now I'm sending them out into the world to teach those lessons and give that comfort to others.  I hope that they find loving homes somewhere and bright eyes to read their words.

Thank you, dear books.  I would say that I will miss you, but you will always be with me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Controlled (?) Chaos

We're in the middle of a cycle of purging at our house.  When we moved here from an apartment, it seemed like our stuff would never fill the space.  Over time it has grown exponentially, and our home is now threatening to burst at the seams.  Thus, as with all logical creatures, we decided to start culling our possessions in order to ease the pressure on the walls of our abode, and on my straining nerves.

I hate feeling cluttered.  I know that there are those of you reading this who are laughing right now because you've seen the state of my personal space over the years, but really, it is true.  It has gotten more true as I have gotten older.  My preference is for clear spaces and room to walk and move around without knocking things over.  I don't hate THINGS, per se, I just want everything to have a place and to BE in that place.  I don't mind that The Husbeast collects Transformers, as long as they are on the shelves that are designated for them when he's not actively using them or showing them to someone.  I don't mind that we have a ton of books (because really...books!) as long as they're on the shelves when they're not actively being read.  Mementos, knick knacks, tchotchkes, whatever you want to call them, they all have a reason for being around and as long as they bring back good memories and don't get so numerous that they become an indistinguishable blur, I'm all for them.

But when it comes to functional spaces like counters, tables, desks, and so on, well...they need to be clear and ready to be used.  It frustrates me to no end that whenever I clean off our coffee table in the living room, it immediately gathers another load of pelf all over it.  I grit my teeth when I walk into the kitchen and can't find enough space on the counter to make a sandwich or prep dinner.  When things are piled so high on the dresser that there's not even a spot for my deodorant, my day begins with a growl of annoyance.

Recently both The Husbeast and I reached our saturation point and agreed that it was time to start clearing the house of some stuff and making sure that everything remaining has a place to "live" other than simply the last place someone set it down.  So I started working one room at a time, beginning with the game room.  It isn't perfect, there's still the game closet and the paint station to reorganize, but for the most part it is one thousand percent better than it was.  I have been moving to other rooms and beginning to work on them. My goal is to have most of it done before we have our big Thanksgiving shindig.

The thing is, I had forgotten how much worse things get when you are in the process of purging.  When everything gets pulled out of a space to be sorted and checked over, the chaos factor rises amazingly fast.  When that happens it can be difficult to keep the end goal in mind and not freak out over the huge mess that used to be your home.  Right now there are pantry items on the kitchen counters and the dining room table, with more to come as I pull everything out of there over the next couple of days and sort through what we have.  Some things will go to the local food bank if they are still within their dates.  Some things will get thrown out if they are unusable.  Some things will go back in, but they will go back into the pantry in an organized manner.  I have containers to put small items in, and chalkboard labels to write contents on then stick on said containers.  And WOE BETIDE the person who goes into that pantry and just throws anything anywhere on the shelves.  I WILL END THEM!!!!


I mean, the entire household will participate in the concentrated effort to keep the pantry neat and organized from here on out.

After that, there's the breakfast nook, the dining room, the kitchen, the living room, and the Fat Lady Room that all need to be done.  And if I'm REALLY on a roll, I hopefully will be able to get the master suite done before Thanksgiving too.  Then...the hall closet.  I'll need boxes for the hats, more stickers to label said boxes, and we'll need to go through our swords and decide what to do with them.  If we keep them, then they need to be displayed somehow.  I don't want them just to be shoved in a closet somewhere.

I would really like to start 2017 with an organized home, an organized mind, and a plan of attack to make it a blowout year for Fat Lady Foods.

I just have to wade through all of the chaos first.  Wish me luck...I'm going in!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Power of Words

We all go through different phases in our lives when it comes to our physical state.  My phases have all revolved around weight (big shock there, right? *LOL*), and I know many others who have had the same sorts of phases.  My current, and final as far as I'm concerned, phase is acceptance. I am who I am, and I have no plans to deliberately attempt to alter my weight.  I am making a concerted effort to eat a more nutritionally balanced diet, and to listen to my body in regards to its wants and needs.  Currently it tends to scold me when I slack on fruits and vegetables, so there has been an increase in those over the past few months.  I have found myself wanting less meat in my diet, which is a bit of a surprise because I've always been a bit of a carnivore-leaning omnivore, but if that's what my body wants, that's fine too. There are other times when my body demands a Milky Way bar, so I eat one and that is completely fine as well.

I know many others who are making their own choices regarding their bodies, as is their right, and some of whom are actively dieting to try and lose weight.  I support their choices, and as they achieve goals they have set for themselves, I cheer for them because they have accomplished something they set out to do. My thoughts on those goals are not relevant to them, so I do not share them, I just share their joy in achieving something they have wanted to achieve.  If they ASK for my thoughts, I will share, but until then, it is not my place.

It can be difficult at times to be a bystander, though.  It isn't difficult so much because I disagree with the basic philosophies behind their choices. I have friends whose political philosophies are 180-degrees from my own and we get along just fine.  It is difficult because there is a pattern of behavior that I have seen occur in those who are losing weight, that has happened to me when I was temporarily successful in losing weight, that can cause me to clench my teeth and force my hands away from the keyboard until I get myself back under control.  It is a completely understandable phase, and one that is really quite inevitable and is NEVER meant to cause bad feelings or hurt to anyone else but is, instead, fueled completely and totally by enthusiasm and the desire to share a feeling of joy that they are experiencing and have not felt in a long time...if ever.

This enthusiasm for the choices that they are making tends to lead to inadvertent shaming of others choices in a myriad of ways. Usually it is through word choices.  The most common that I have seen is the assignment of moral judgment to food items.  This food is "good".  That food is "bad".   Eating this food requires that the person in question work out extra tonight, carrying the implication that their workout is their punishment for eating said food.  Walking past this food in the break room multiple times in a day makes this person virtuous in their restraint, carrying the accidental implication that those who did NOT walk past and who "indulged" are not as virtuous.

This can also lead to further discussion of such things as "the obesity problem".  That phrase makes me want to reach out and do violent things because without meaning to do so, the person who says it suddenly turns me, my body, and the body of everyone who looks like me, into a problem.  We're suddenly bad, something to be avoided or changed.  We become people who need to have a war waged against them.  Of course, the majority of people who use the phrase "the war on obesity" do not intend to imply that obese people need to be eradicated or destroyed, they simply mean that obese people's FAT needs to be eradicated, but stop and think about that for a moment.  REALLY think about it.  My fat is a part of me, it isn't some fat suit that I put on while the cameras are rolling and then take off again.  I'm not a thin person trying to get out.  I am me, fat and all.  So when someone says that they want to wage war against my fat, they are saying that they want to wage war against me.  When someone says that obesity is an epidemic that needs to be eradicated, they are saying that they want to eradicate me.  When someone says that the obesity problem needs to be eliminated, they want to eliminate me. They may not realize that is what they're saying, but there it is, black and white, plain as day to the person who has the joy of being the problem to be eradicated.

Words have power.  They can hurt and they can heal.  They can support or they can destroy.  We hear all of the time that we are all too focused on political correctness, and that people need to toughen up and not take everything so personally.  That isn't the point at all. The point is that we are growing up as a species, and humanity is finally starting to realize that maybe...just maybe...we should be more aware of these things.  We're going through the growing pains of it all, and pain is the correct word, because I know it is an ache in my heart when I realize that I have accidentally said something that has caused another person even a moment of injury.

Very few people enjoy truly causing others emotional injury.  I believe that most of the time if we had the power to take any words back that caused harm, we would do so in a moment, without hesitation.  So I'm suggesting that since this is not possible, we instead take those moments and use them to consider our words BEFORE we throw them out into the universe.  It doesn't take long to just pause and evaluate how the words we're about to say or type or write might be taken by people with viewpoints that are different than our own.  Not to mention that this kind of exercise helps us open our own minds up to new views and ideas, and expanding points of view are rarely bad things, really.

So please, enjoy achieving your goals, and cheer along with others who are doing so, but be aware of how you are stating your support and enthusiasm.  What you mean as a positive may read very differently to others.  Just consider that, and even consider asking someone you know who has a different point of view "How does this read to you?".  You may be surprised at how what you meant to say differs from what others heard.  Being aware of that is a good thing, because it lets you decide if you want to leave it that way or if you want to make changes.

Because, again, words...they have power.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Adjusting to One Income

Several months ago I quit my day job to focus solely on my business (well, and on getting our house out of the "Complete Chaos Verging On Candidate for Clean House" stage).  We knew it would be an adjustment, especially in the financial realm, and we weren't wrong.

You see, most of my income was going to extras such as dining out or things we didn't really NEED, and we knew that stuff would have to be severely cut back.  The funny thing is, I don't think either of us realized just how dependent we had gotten on those luxuries.  Dependent is the right word, too, because they became a part of our every day routine.  Neither of us felt like cooking?  Not a problem, we would just order food!  Bored?  Just go buy new craft supplies or ebooks or DVDs, and the problem is solved!

At first the change was easy to deal with because it was new and different.  We could be proud of ourselves for being virtuous and not spending money.  As time has gone on old habits fight to reassert themselves and we give in more and more.  But this is a trend that needs to be stopped and stopped now, because while I have my own business, I do not make a salary (yet!) from it, thus we are living solely on the income brought home by The Husbeast and those incidental purchases impact our finances proportionately a lot more than they did when we had disposable income at hand.

Please do NOT get me wrong.  This is a change that I will never regret and have happily made as I really want to find out if my business can stand on its own two feet or not.  If it is going to succeed, it will do so because it has my undivided attention.  If it is going to fail, then I want it to fail for valid reasons (the market won't support it, deficiencies in my marketing abilities, fate, karma, whatever) rather than just because I half-assed it to death.

This blog entry is just serving as a reminder to myself that old habits die hard, new habits take time to build, and that unless I really WANT to return to Cube Farm Life, I need to get better and deciding just what is a necessity and what isn't.

But isn't that the way of life for everyone?  We all need to know what our necessities are and what our indulgences are, and when it is appropriate to allow for the latter.  It's just that I will be fifty years old in less than a month, and I find that I'm still really not that good at distinguishing the two.

Gives me a goal to work toward, doesn't it?

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fat Lady Foods: Growing Pains

For the past few weeks I have been feverishly preparing for the Dallas Chocolate Festival.  It was the first time that my company would participate in this show, and I consider it to really be our debut in Dallas Foodie Circles.  We've done a lot in the past four years, but this is really the first show that we've worked that is centered around people who are more on the adventurous, gourmet side of food.

My goals were simple:
  • Get the Fat Lady Foods name out there in circles that weren't aware of us before.
  • Get 10% of the expected attendees to spend $5 each at the booth.
The first goal was met brilliantly.  Our placement in the room was wonderful, close enough to the doors that most people hadn't broken away from the line yet when their time to enter came along (there were four General Admission ticket times and a VIP ticket time), yet far enough away that we weren't dealing with the sound from the big screen that was right there and people weren't rushing past us to get in further.  We had time to talk to people, to engage them, and to interact.  Since all three people at our booth are Scarborough trained (Shado, Rae, and myself), the engagement part wasn't that hard for us.  

Shado handled the retail part of things, selling products, cashing people out, bagging items, and giving them their Jamilicious Club cards and free recipe booklets. 

Rae started out helping Shado but then jumped in and became the sample disher when people started going through samples faster than I could replenish them.

They were both my heroes, and I can't imagine trying to do that show without either one of them!

I schmoozed, marked off their sample cards, and pushed the Facebook page, Twitter feed, Instagram feed, and website.  I also answered questions, promoted the farmers markets where I sell, and handed out business cards.  I do have to say that the sample cards are a brilliant idea.  Everyone who came in got a card listing all of the exhibitors / vendors.  When they got a sample from a table, that vendor marked themselves off on the card.  This meant that everyone got to try a sample from every vendor BUT only one sample, so the vendors didn't run out because people kept coming back and taking multiple samples.  Brilliant idea!

The show also had a cameraman following the emcee around as she interviewed the various vendors.  This was shown on the big screen up by the doors and, I think, on screens outside where ticket holders lined up to come inside.  I was happy with how I did when she came around to me.  Ironically, the experience I'd gotten the week before while moderating a panel in the arena at Geekinomicon worked to my advantage and added to my SAPA training to make me pretty comfortable in front of the camera and with holding a microphone.

Sadly, I had to do most of this sitting as I managed to do quite a number on my left leg earlier in the week by taking a nasty tumble in the parking lot at the kitchen, but none of us really got to leave the booth for very long during the day anyway.  Every time we would start to catch our breath from one wave of attendees, the next wave was let in.

We got to meet others in the food business too, which is good.  One chef is an instructor at a magnet school culinary program.  He asked me if I would be interested in coming and speaking to his students about the realities of starting a food-based business, and what is is actually like versus what "The Next Food Network Star" makes it seem like it could be.  I made sure he had my card, and am looking forward to hearing from him. I would enjoy going and speaking with the kids.

We did get some compliments from both professionals and amateur food lovers alike for having something different in the form of the fruit and chocolate jams.  I think it was a nice change of pace for people from the piles and piles of oh-so-tasty chocolates.  

Sadly, we didn't get to eat that much chocolate.  As I said before, we didn't really get a chance to get away from the booth much, though I did make sure that Rae and Shado each got to walk around at least once.  We didn't get much food during the day either, really, other than a pastry during setup and a 3" piece of Jimmy Johns subs for "lunch". Even that took quite a while to eat since we couldn't step away to do so.  But that's okay.  It was worth it to keep talking to people.

Now...the second goal?  That one wasn't as successful.

You see, this market season has not been a great one.  I'm doing twice as many markets as before, and I've made about half as much money total.  I don't know if it has been the heat, or the constant threats of rain, but people haven't been coming out and when they DO come out, they just aren't buying like usual.  So I really needed this to be a financial success too.

Well...the best that can be said is that it was our best day so far this year.  We did get an average sale amount of higher than I'd hoped, but a much lower sale count than I had been hoping for, sadly.  This is going to make things interesting, but I am holding out hope that there will be an increase in traffic to the website thanks to the cards that were handed out, word of mouth, and some other elements coming into play.

Unfortunately, I am going to have to depend on only a couple of holiday markets and the website for another holiday season as I just don't have the money to pay the booth fees for any additional market opportunities.  That's what I was hoping for, because just a few hundred more dollars and I could have gotten into more markets AND paid some of my company's bills.  

But we work with what we have, right?


All in all, it was a positive experience. It was a learning experience, that's for sure.  We know more about how this kind of show runs versus a farmers market type setting or holiday market type setting.  We also learned some things that will make next time go more smoothly (make sample cups up ahead of time!!!!)

Things are still on a pendulum for the business, but positive thinking is a must, and so positive thinking there shall be.  Onward, my friends...onward we go into the brave world of entrepreneurship!


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Touching Other Lives

On every other Wednesday night there is a gathering at our home.  Grown adults sit around our dining room table and pretend to be people in a galaxy far, far, away, or vampires and werewolves, or any number of fantastical beings.  Tabletop RPG night is always full of laughter and good company.

Tonight, as we were playing, Gwydion was wandering amongst us seeking out suckers to pet him.  Gwydion is our newest kitty, brought home by The Husbeast after being found stuck up in a tree.  Our handsome fellow was moving from person to person, demanding attention, and watching him sort of got me thinking in the back of my mind.

I believe that it is pretty common across the majority of humanity to want to leave a legacy of some kind.  We want the future to know that we were here, that we made a difference somehow.  The odds are against us, as individuals, being remembered unless we do something on the extreme ends of the good / bad scale, but it is still a hope for many.

While that is also true for me (let's be honest, here, shall we?), I was thinking tonight as I watched our boy cat induce yet another of our friends to scritch his ears, that in many ways I've already made my mark on the world even if it isn't something that will go down in the history books.  There are four lives that changed for the better, four beings who get soft, cushy beds, and bowls of food and water, and a safe place to live that is full of love that they may never have gotten if The Husbeast and I hadn't come along.

Do you know how amazing that is?  We changed their lives!  Forever!  

Jasmine didn't have to stay in her crate at the shelter any more.  She got to come home with us and discover the joys of tissue paper, plastic bags, and belly rubs.

Cobweb didn't grow up as feral, having to fight for every bite of food or struggle to find safe places to sleep.  She didn't end up getting pregnant and having litter after litter of kittens because she was out and about with no way to prevent it.  She got to come home with us and discover the magic of string, fishing pole, full body rubs, and Furminatoring.

Velcro didn't end up at a shelter where she would be killed after a week or less.  She got to come home with us and discover the happiness of pinning Mommy to the chair, smoked ham, and The Red Dot.

And now Gwydion... who didn't end up getting hit by a car or having to make his way in the world without food or shelter.  He got to come home with us and discover the joys of sliding across the wood floors at full speed, pouncing the other cats until they fuss at him, and eating us out of house and home.

Four lives that changed forever.  Maybe it isn't history-making, and maybe it isn't earth-shattering, but you know what?

The Husbeast and I...we done good.  :)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Subconscious Nightmares

I had a nightmare last night. I'm pretty sure that it was my subconscious trying to work out all of my fears about being self-employed.

I was driving somewhere in my car, which was a lovely, red convertible. I had the top down and was perfectly comfortable even though there was snow and ice around.  For some reason I had to turn around and head back the way I had come, but I wasn't sure I got on the right highway.  I got off at the next exit so that I could pull over and set up my GPS but I got caught in a bunch of traffic being re-routed around an accident that had just happened.  We ended up going down this steep hill that ended in a body of water.  I was trying to slow down so that I could turn off to the left, and hit a huge patch of ice.

The next thing I know, my car is balanced on the edge of a drop, just like you see in the movies.  The passenger side was over the edge, my side was still above solid ground but tilting, and I was trying to carefully get myself out before the car went over.  There was a woman there, loading her kids into her car, and I was screaming for help but she just looked at me with a cross between not even seeing me at all and faint contempt.  Then the car started to go.  I slid out, managed to grab something, and was hanging there, still calling to her for help while she ignored me.  She got into her truck and drove away just as I lost my grip and fell into the freezing water.

I managed to swim to shore and get back up and out as I watched three other cars / trucks go over the edge too.  They were all from small businesses too, like contractors and stuff.  I climbed up to a deck kind of overlooking the water, still not cold despite being soaked through and it obviously being winter, and could see rescue workers around where my car was, trying to see if anyone was trapped.  I called out and let them know I was safe, and they moved on to the next one.

At one point, Shado, dressed as one of the rescue workers with a hard hat and reflective vest, came up and I saw him.  I was shocked and like, "What are you doing here?" because I knew I hadn't called him yet.  My phone was in my pocket and I hadn't even seen if it was working yet.  He just looked at me, shook his head, and walked away.

Next all of us whose cars had gone swimming were in an office nearby, trying to get help, but they were extremely unhelpful. None would do anything to help us get home again. I finally got one to give me a number for a taxi service so that I could go to the bus station. I started to leave, and that's when I woke up.

I can't even begin to go over the huge amounts of symbolism that are apparent to me in that dream. Everything from "my business will fail" to "Shado will leave me over it" to "no one will care or help".  All that I can really do is let my subconscious work out its worries on its own, and keep plugging away as best I know how, as scary as it may be at times.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Being My Own Boss: WIL #1

Two months ago I got back from a long vacation from work and worked for two days before I e-mailed my Husbeast at about 10 a.m saying, "I can't do this any more."  Nothing against where I worked, it was a good job with decent people.  There was just nothing left after juggling my own business, a 40-hour a week, a home, a Husbeast, and trying to actually have a sliver of a life outside all of that once in a while (not very successfully) for so long.  To my Husbeast's credit, his reply was one sentence:  "Do what you have to do."

Ten minutes later I was speaking privately with my boss and giving her my notice.

My notice period was kind of long because there were some things we were working on that I wanted to see through to the end.  And then it was done.  Last week was my first full week as my own boss, working solely for Fat Lady Foods, LLC and I learned a lot already.  (Thus the WIL in the title, standing for "What I Learned".)  I fully expect to learn a lot more as time goes on, so I doubt this will be the only post of this nature on my blog, just the first.

And now, on to what I learned:

  • Create a To Do List every day, but do it in the morning, not the night before.
    • For the first week I created my To Do Lists the night before based on what hadn't been finished that day and what my priorities the next day were at the time.  What I found myself actually doing was changing the list around the next morning because during the night things had percolated in my mind and priorities had shifted without me even realizing it.  My brain has always kept working on things while I'm asleep, but have never had the extent of it so plainly demonstrated before.  So now it is clear not to make solid plans for the next day unless it is something that absolutely HAS to happen then, such as a Kitchen Day.
  • Assess what was accomplished at the end of each day.
    • This plays into the item above, really, as I need to know what was finished in order to be aware of what still needs to be done.  Also, it is a form of accountability for myself as I post my daily accomplishments on Facebook to a list of people who have indicated interest in seeing those posts.  This keeps me from falling into the trap of treating every day like a vacation day.  Like any job my productivity has to be evident to my boss (myself) and my supporters.  Productivity is evidence of responsible behavior.  Being irresponsible too often leads to failure, and failure leads to going back to being a Cube Farm occupant.
  • Don't let my sleep patterns get messed up over the weekend.
    • There really is no reason to sleep super late on weekends any more.  I am in full control of my own schedule, and if more sleep is needed, I can adjust things so that the issue is taken care of without fuss or muss.  Heck, if I need a nap for some reason, I can alter my schedule to allow time for one!  Sleep deprivation shouldn't exist in my world any more.  Admittedly, my sleep was messed up this weekend because of a stupid stomach bug that woke me up in the middle of the night and kept me awake for several hours that I normally sleep through, but when that is NOT the case there is no valid reason for me to sleep so late on a weekend that it means I can't get to sleep early enough to keep a normal schedule on Monday.
  • Follow a basic routine.
    • My most productive days last week were the days that I followed the same basic routine while altering the contents / tasks of said routine.  When that routine wasn't followed, I was scatterbrained and unfocused.  In other words, yet again, treat this like what it is:  my job.  It may take a while to find the optimal routine, and there's nothing saying that routine is set in stone for all of eternity.  As the backlogged items are completed  and ideas for making the business grow begin to really move forward, the needs of the company will change which will mean that the routine may have to change as well, but those changes need to be conscious changes and not just whims.
  • Let myself have Sundays to play without feeling guilty about not working.
    • I have to be careful with this one.  I know myself, and I know that if I am NOT careful, work stuff will start edging in on Sundays when it doesn't need to do so.  It is one thing to work on a Sunday when I am at a full weekend show or that is the only day I can book the kitchen for some reason, but in a normal week I should let myself relax and enjoy my Sundays without feeling any guilt.  No "just this one thing" exceptions allowed, because then it will become a regular occurrence.  I have definite tendencies toward workaholism.  The amusing thing is that I also have definite tendencies toward laziness.  When the two collide, it can be epic, and not always in a good way.  So there is a tightrope to be walked between keeping myself on track for full productivity, and letting it consume me to the point where there is nothing else in my life.  Neither of those options is a healthy one.

I have a lot more to learn, as stated earlier, and am still figuring this whole working for myself thing out, but I think the start that has been made is a good one.  There are things that I make sure get done every day like writing in my Commonplace Book, trying to keep a balance between getting things done for Fat Lady and getting things done that need doing around the house, and most importantly, making time to scritch the kitties throughout the day (the cats made me put that last one in - they think that should be my FIRST priority, of course!).  I make sure that to get dressed every day instead of working in my pajamas, because otherwise I won't take it seriously.

There are things that still need to be added into my schedule, but I need to get the basic format down first.  There needs to be some kind of movement every day.  Otherwise I'll sit and do spreadsheets and so on and never get over 1,000 steps a day.  I've tracked out a few potential walking routes on and hopefully can add them in when the heat starts easing off a bit.  Until then there are fitness DVD's and movement games for the gaming console.  I can also do laps inside the house if I want to just walk. There are options, I just have to decide which one to do each day.

Overall, I think it has been a good start.  The key is to just keep building on it.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A big step

I am getting ready to make a big step, a bigger step than I've made in my life in a long, long time.  You see, Dear Readers, approximately one month ago I came back to work from a 2-week vacation.  During that time I had been able to relax, but I had also been able to get things done that I needed to get done WHEN I needed to do them.  I was able to work on my business, and do creative things like read, write, color, and cross-stitch.  My migraines were few and minor compared to normal.  I felt happy and rested.

And then I went back to work.  I lasted two days before I found myself sitting at my desk and emailing The Husbeast with the words, "I can't do this any more.".  I went over our budget, and nearly every dollar I was making was going toward extras like eating out or entertainment. So he emailed me back with the simple sentence,"Do what you have to do." and ten minutes later I was talking to my boss in the small conference room and giving my notice.  Because of circumstances at work, I gave a very extensive notice, six weeks to be exact, because I don't like to leave things unfinished and we were in the middle of some major software and procedure changes.

Now I have two weeks, seven workdays really, left before I turn in my badge and walk out of the building for good.  With every day that passes the terror-filled "Oh my gods, WHAT AM I DOING?" feelings become fewer and fewer and the excitement grows.  I have lists upon lists of things I need to do.  There are lists of things I need to catch up on for my business, lists of things I want to do going forward for my business, lists of things I want to get done around the house, lists of stories I want to write, lists of craft projects I want to complete, lists of books I want to read, lists of online courses I want to take, and so on.

I know, I know, you're saying, "But Lys, you're doing this so you can work on your business, aren't you?  How do crafting and reading and writing and so on fit in there?"

You wouldn't think that it would make a difference, would you?  But what I found over those two weeks of vacation was that by giving my mind time to be creative again, by writing and crafting and all of the other -ings I was doing, I was stretching my brain.  It had become cramped, shaped like the walls of the cube I sat in every day at work, and with that slow solidification all of my exuberance for my own business started leaking away.  The thing that I loved doing became just another chore.  I could feel myself starting to resent the idea of going to the kitchen rather than looking forward to it.  I wanted to find excuses to miss going to market days instead of being excited about introducing new people to my products. The flourescent lights and glare of the computer screen were slowly leeching away my enthusiasm and leaving me as an ennui-filled husk.

That two weeks, that stretching of my brain, re-ignited some of my joy and my creativity.  I went to the kitchen at the end of that second week with all kinds of flavor ideas teeming in my brain.  I couldn't wait to try new combinations!  I diced, smooshed, simmered, and boiled my way through almost fifteen hours of steamy kitchen time and came out with flavors I'd never made before.  Good flavors, flavors that intrigue people, flavors that people ENJOY!

THAT is my joy!  That is what I love.  And in another two weeks, THAT will be the center of my day again!  But I will also make sure that I have time to do all of those other creative things to help my brain keep stretching.  I will also make sure that there is time to work on Project Wiley - The Great Decluttering to make our home less crowded, a more relaxing place to be and an easier place to take care of on limited time.

There are still flashes of panic now and then about money, but I know this is the right thing to do.  I'm already making plans for which shows I want to rent booth space at, and how much more inventory I'll need to make next year.  It is going to be GREAT!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Politics: Democratic Party in 2016

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I have been a Bernie Sanders supporter for the duration of this Presidential Primary season.  I feel that his positions come closest to my own stances on the various topics in question, and I believe that the direction he would lead our country in is the one that would be the best path.  Those are my opinions, and so that is where I have thrown my support.  Others have different opinions, and they have thrown their support elsewhere.  That's kind of how this whole election thing works, after all.

The Primaries are winding down, and it appears that whether I agree with the mechanics of it all or not, the Democratic Party nomination will be handed to Hillary Clinton.  There will be a lot of debate in coming days / months / years about whether there was fraud in various States or not, whether the Democratic Party manipulated the situation so that there was no way anyone but Hillary could win, and about the whole SuperDelegates issue.

That is not what this blog is about.

This blog, dear readers, is about the prominence of extremism and the inability to have rational discourse that goes along with it.

You see, I am a Bernie supporter.  I would definitely prefer that he sit in the Oval Office and influence the road our country takes toward the future.  But I ALSO admire many things about Hillary Clinton. I read her autobiography, I watched her career move forward through her husband's Presidency and her own turn in government.  I happen to believe she made an excellent Secretary of State.

Are there things about her that I don't like?  Of course. No one is perfect.  There are things about Bernie Sanders that I don't like.  I feel he is exceptionally weak on foreign policy, that were he to be elected and the composition of Congress not radically changed we would have another four years of gridlock as the Republicans spent more time worrying about how to block him than about what is good for the country, and I feel that he wants to move too fast in some ways and the instability that will cause could bring the whole house of cards tumbling down.

I believe that Hillary Clinton is too involved with corporate interests, that she won't do anything to begin removing big money from politics, that she is too steeped in the traditions of politics as usual and game playing to be able to shake things up the way they obviously NEED to be shaken up, and I also have a real problem with political dynasties such as we have been seeing over the past couple of decades.  America is not a monarchy, and the same few families should not be handing positions of power around like prizes.

Both are better options, however, than Donald Trump. He quite genuinely scares me.  He doesn't really have positions because he isn't smart enough to think through to consequences.  This is obvious from the many times he has just opened his mouth and let words fall out without thinking about what will happen after he says whatever it is he is thinking at that moment.  I believe that the world will hate us even more than it does now if he gets elected, and sadly, I believe that they will be right to do so.  He is dangerous in so many ways, and is one of the LAST people that I want to have representing me and my country.

So one would think that Bernie supporters and Hillary supporters could at least agree on this, right?  That Trump is a danger, and that for him to be elected is one of the most frightening potential realities to come along in a long, long time?  

But no.

They are so busy sniping at one another, screaming insults at one another, swearing that they WILL NOT VOTE FOR THE ENEMY that the real danger is likely going to waltz right past and into the Oval Office. But apparently that doesn't matter as much to most people as being right.  They want to be totally and completely right about who they supported.   They don't want to admit that any other choice might actually have some good points. It has become a world of all or nothing, black and white with no grey.

I'm not an absolutist, and I firmly believe in shades of grey (more than 50 of them, even!).  I believe that the vast majority of people have good in them, and the vast majority of people have evil in them, but that they keep it from taking control of them most of the time.  I believe that mercy is important but that the punishment should fit the crime.  I believe that misogyny, racism, body policing, ableism, and other forms of discrimination will always exist but I also believe that as humanity continues to grow in awareness such opinions will become less and less socially acceptable.

I believe that there is a lot of potential in this world and that someday we will actually unlock it all.  But that won't happen until the day comes when we can stop acting like toddlers and throwing temper tantrums when every little thing isn't done exactly as we wish. We have to keep working for change, but we also have to accept that it takes time, there will occasionally be steps backwards as those who are frightened of it all temporarily gain control for a time and try to rewind the clock, but that will pass and gradually change WILL happen.  Patience, persistence, and flexibility in our thinking is what will win the day.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Peace be with you...

Dear people trying to pick a fight with me on the internet:
It isn't going to work. Thank you for playing. Have a nice day. No, really, I hope that you have a nice day. I hope that you find a flower to smell that brightens your mood. I hope that a stranger does you a kindness that makes you smile. I hope that you hear from someone you care about and haven't talked to in a while and you get to laugh about all of those old jokes you haven't thought of in a long, long time. I hope that you have your favorite food for dinner tonight. I hope that you have restful sleep and happy dreams tonight. I hope that all of the things that are good and kind and peaceful happen today and help you move past the momentary impulse that pushed you to try and engage someone in a moment of anger over something relatively trivial on a faceless, anonymous media. I hope that you have a lovely day. I hope that we all do.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dear Doctor Fatphobe

As any fat person can tell you, going to the doctor for even the most minor problem is a huge ordeal.  Unless you are one of the lucky few who has a doctor who treats you as a person instead of as a fat person, you are subjected to endless lectures, tsking, and forms of fat shaming.  It really is no wonder that a large number of fat people wait until their problems are serious to get medical help instead of seeking treatment when things could be caught early and dealt with easily.  When the people who are supposed to be helping you spend the whole time making you feel like dirt, it really isn't incentive to get you into their offices.

I am lucky.  I have had my doctor for around sixteen years, and we understand one another.  She slips every once in a while and starts to fall back into the flawed medical system mindset, but then snaps out of it with a simple comment from me about how I don't think that way and prefer to follow a Health at Every Size approach to things.  I can't blame her for those slips, she is surrounded by cult propaganda all day every day.  But generally my doctor visits aren't too bad, and we have a good working relationship.

Recently she decided she'd had enough of dealing with insurance companies and their interference in how she treated her patients.  The Husbeast and I totally supported her in this, as there was no reason for her to get penalized if my weight didn't go down to some arbitrary number or the like.  So she left her practice and joined another one, one that doesn't take insurance.  It is out of network for us, so involves more paperwork and we have to pay up front, but she's an excellent doctor and we like her, so we don't mind.

Let me amend that a little.  I don't mind, as long as I get to see her when I go in.  Two of the last three times I have gone in, I have seen the other doctor in the practice. I am telling you know, that in the future, no matter what my condition, I am calling to see if MY doctor is in and taking patients that day before I go in. If she is not, then I am going to urgent care instead. The following letter is to the other doctor in the practice, the doctor who I shall call Dr. Fatphobe.

Dear Dr. Fatphobe:

I was recently in your office and my doctor was away for the day.  This is the second time that has happened, and as far as I am concerned it is the last.  I have given you two chances, and both times I walked out of the office incoherent with rage at the things you said and did.

To begin with, I would like to point out that just because I am fat, it does NOT give you any excuse to speak condescendingly to me.  The fact that I had to pull out my coldest 'shut down' tone to get you to stop lecturing me about my life choices, even though you have no idea what they are since you didn't bother to ask about my typical diet or exercise habits, did not start the appointment off on the right foot.  And, by the way, trying to sell me your weight loss book during our first appointment together did not really make a great first impression.  Rather, it made me take an instant dislike that this second appointment only confirmed.

I have been diabetic for some time now.  I know what a1C is, and I know that it is different from the numbers that I test for in the mornings.  I also know that I do not have the equipment to test for a1C at home, so it is impossible for me to track on my own. You should know that as well, so do NOT treat me as an idiot and start simplistically docsplaining the difference to me.  You asked how my blood sugars have been running, I answered with the information available to me. If you wanted to know how my a1C's had been running, you should have asked, and I would have politely informed you of the fact that I cannot test for those at home (a fact you should already know).

Lastly, when my blood pressure reading is within the normal range, I do NOT feel that it is acceptable to prescribe me a blood pressure medication just because I am fat.  Especially when I have previously expressed a distrust of statins and the damage that they do to the body.  I do not feel that the good they do outweighs their dangers, especially in my situation where my blood pressure is NORMAL TO BEGIN WITH!  So, thank you for completely disregarding my feelings and including the prescription in with the others anyway.  The pharmacy filled it...and it is sitting on my counter, where it will remain...unused...until I find a safe disposal site to get rid of it.

You, Dr. Fatphobe, are an ass.  You do not listen to me because you seem to feel that my being fat means that I am too stupid and / or irresponsible to know anything about my own health.  That condescending dismissiveness of yours has been experienced by me for the last time.  I shall no longer accept you as a physician.  If you are the only one in the office, I shall either come back on another day, or go to urgent care.  I will let my own doctor know how unhappy I am with how you treated me, and that I refuse to ever see you again.  I deserve better than you offer, and unlike so many who still suffer under the weight of society's teachings, I have learned that I have the right to tell you just what I think and where you can go..and I am now doing so.

Do not expect to ever see me again, unless it is to be walking past one another as I see your partner at your practice.

No love, or like, or even kind consideration,

The Fat Lady

(Note:  It has been pointed out to me that statins are for cholesterol, not blood pressure.  Now, it is possible that he misspoke, or that I misheard.  I am not sure which it is.  My cholesterol numbers are also fine as of my last testing, so either way, I don't need the medication.  I don't discount the idea that I misheard as I am human and I was so furious at that point in time I was pretty much at my limits.  Either way, the medication was prescribed for fatness, not for a legitimate medical condition.)

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Already?

The Earth has gone around the sun one more time and it is now 2016 by the calendar my part of the world follows.

Last year went really fast.  REALLY fast.  I accomplished some things, failed at some things, and have some things still ongoing.  In other words it was pretty much a typical year.  Now it is time to look back one more time, assess where I stand, and decide where I want to chart my path for the coming year.  All of this is done, of course, with the knowledge that no plan survives contact with the enemy...or with reality...or with whatever it is that The Fates have planned for the oncoming year.  Still, it is always comforting to have some goals in mind to help find an initial direction. thoughts on where I want my 2016 to lead:

  • I am going to turn 50 years old this year.  That kind of blows my mind.  When I was young, 50 seemed so OLD, and now I feel like (physical issues aside) I'm hardly any different than I was when I was 15.  But when I stop and think about it, I realize just how different I am.  I've learned a lot about patience, empathy, and love in my years.  At one point I believed I would never be a good parent, so I didn't want children.  I was always afraid that I would be the overly demanding, perfectionist who was never satisfied with how well my kids did things.  I didn't want to put any children through that.  But as time went on and I grew, I realized that there was a part of myself that really did want to have children, and that I had matured into someone who could BE a good parent, loving yet firm without being a perfectionist.  To our dismay, we discovered that I was unable to have children at that point.  Ironic, don't you think?  So we started talking adoption.  Since then we have talked about it, even started the process, but never followed through.  There are always reasons, of course, money...time...are we really ready?...that sort of thing, but the end result has been that we remain where we started several years ago.  This year is the year of do or die.  Either we do it, or the idea dies.  I am getting to the age where I think it will be difficult to get approved to adopt.  Thus the goal of getting the paperwork and required training done, or just letting go of the idea and knowing that our legacy will have to carry forward in other ways.
  • Fat Lady Foods is at the tipping point, and this year's goal is to push it into the next stage.  I want to be able to pay myself by the end of the year.  I don't expect to be able to pay myself a high enough salary that I can stop working at the bank all together, but I want to make progress in that direction.  Thus there will be less time spent playing games or reading Facebook, and more time spent searching out new shows to do, exploring new product lines, making sure that paperwork is current so there's no end of the year rush to get it all together, and exploring new marketing opportunities.  The business won't build itself, and I refuse to let this follow the pattern of other ideas I've had in the past.  I refuse to let it die from some strange need I seem to have to create my own downfall, self-sabotage at its finest.  I love working my business, and I will move forward and let it grow the way that it should rather than holding it and myself back because I'm too scared to succeed.
  • I adore our house, but you couldn't tell that by looking at it.  There are so many aspects of it that need care and we have been bad about treating it the way that we should.  My home will never be a showplace.  We actually live in it, and there's no denying it.  I am very realistic about the chances of getting The Husbeast to remember to always close cupboard doors when he's done in them, or to put things back when he's finished using them.  His mind just doesn't work that way.  Not to say that the chaos in our house is all his fault.  I have my own bad habits about letting things pile up instead of putting them where they should go as they come into the house.  But this will be a year where one of my foci is to get the house and yard in better shape.  Money will have to be spent, but if it means we eat out / order in less and actually spend money on things like new gutters, getting the garage fixed up, getting a new living room ceiling, and having the landscaping done, then that is what happens.  I want to be proud of my home.  I am tired of being ashamed of how it looks, or describing it as "The house with the scraggly yard and weeds." when people are looking for it.
  • Not all of my goals for the year are huge ones.  I have smaller ones as well.  I want to read 104 books this year.  That was my goal for 2015 and I only managed to read 67 of them.  I will try again to have a good mix of fluff, philosophy, history, science, biography, and classic literature.  I think that my spread of subjects has always been good, so that doesn't need improving.  I do, however, have to work on the huge list of reading subjects that I've written down as I've run across things I want to learn more about.  I would like to strike some of them through to make room for more.
  • I have declared this to be The Year of Pinterest!  I have over 2,000 pins on my Pinterest boards between recipes, cross stitch patterns, and coloring pages, among other things.  I am going to work to clear some of those and determine whether they are keepers or not.  The recipes I decide to keep will go into my recipe software for future use.  The craft projects and cross-stitch patterns will get printed out and put into a binder.  I will begin another binder for prepper information.  I know, I know, the image of preppers is  that of crazy people sure that the gubmint is gonna come after us all.  My concern is for natural disaster preparation AND for possible civil issue preparation, but the main concern for me is to know we can survive at a basic comfort level if a hurricane strikes or a major ice storm leaves us iced in for a long time, or an earthquake hits.  None of these are beyond the realm of possibility, and I don't think that it is foolish to be ready just in case.  So, there will be a binder prepared with important information should the vast resources of the internet suddenly become unavailable.
  • Finally, I want to write more.  I want to write more blog posts, I want to get more stories out there in submission, and I want to do serious work on the novel series I have in mind.  I'm sure I'll have plenty of free time to do this *snerk* but seriously, if it is important, then we find the time, right?  So my goal is to find the time and make it work.
These are most of my major goals for the year.  I'm sure that they will morph and change as the days and weeks go by, but this is where I am starting 2016 in my mind.  I can't wait to see where the year ends up and the changes that happen between now and then.

Have a wonderful new year, everyone.  I hope that your year contains everything that you hope it will, and little to none of the things we all fear it will hold.  Let's make this a good one, shall we?