Thursday, January 31, 2013

One Month Check In

Gold Star Days!
A month ago, I listed mock resolutions and then my real ones.  I thought now was a good time to check in with all of you as a way of keeping myself accountable (a word I use a lot these days!).  After all, the semester has started and is has nearly found its rhythm - let's see if it's one I can dance to.

So about the "eat better" part - I actually seem to be doing pretty well on this one.  Way more water and far less caffeine.  I chucked everything for my birthday weekend, but have still managed to lose 5 pounds this month without all that much effort.  Tracking my food on MyFitnessPal also keeps me accountable and I like that it's synced up with Striiv to keep track of my exercise calories.

Speaking of exercise, I started getting serious with the step count.  I like walking, so I decided to make it my primary exercise - it's cheap, easy, and doesn't require extra equipment (although I carry around the iPad with the Striiv app, since I have an older, "non-smart" phone).  I started the first week of January with a modest goal of 6,000 steps a day and have increased it by 500 steps a week, which means that I'm currently at a daily goal of 8,000 steps (with my stride, that's about 3.3 miles).  I'm sticking at 8,000 for the month of February to solidify the habit, then I hope to increase some more with the idea of eventually hitting 10,000 steps a day as a regular thing.

As to the house - well, it's a funny thing.  I was leafing through books over the holidays and my eye was caught by something called Body Clutter.  As I skimmed through it (and it's on my nightstand now), I discovered a whole organizational system called FlyLady.  What so attracted me to this was the idea that you don't have to get everything done today; in fact, don't try that - you'll scorch out and be in a worse place than you were before.  Just take baby steps and start with shining your sink.  I know - crazy, right?  My house is in chaos and you want me to fuss over the sink?!?  Yep.  I figured it wouldn't work, but that I could at least try so I could SAY it didn't work but - holy cow.  It really does.  Having that one little thing done right makes a spot of clarity in the house and you can work out from there.  While there's still plenty to get done, I have two closets straightened and I've become Goodwill's new best friend as started the de-cluttering process.  And my sink is shined, thankyouverymuch.

Travel - well, not so much just yet.  I haven't even gotten back up to see FryDaddy in Johnson City, although he's faithfully made the trip down here.  Weather's been iffy going over the mountains and his schedule allows for longer weekends than mine.  We're hoping to plan some designated "play time" this year - maybe with some time at the beach, maybe with some non-working time in the mountains.  The important thing is that we're planning it.

I just have to tell you - one thing I'm doing to keep myself motivated during this "Year Of Change" is a habit from kindergarten.  I went to the dollar store and bought a slew of those foil stars.  At the end of every day, if I've made my goals, I get a gold one on the calendar.  If I didn't make all of them, it's green - hey, I tried and that's worth a star in any event!  In January, my "gold star" was earned for accomplishing three things - shining the sink, reaching my step goal with my walking, and drinking my 8 glasses of water a day.  A silly system, maybe, but I only had 2 "green star" days all month!

Not bad at all for Month 1!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Second Terms & Second Chances

Yesterday was the official inauguration of Pres. Obama into his second term - it was set by the 20th Amendment to take place on Jan. 20, so the fact that it was a Sunday didn't matter.  But that was a small, one-minute ceremony - today's the party!  Only it's not really a party - second inaugurals tend to be smaller and a tad more subdued that the first one.

Nevertheless, it provides me with an opportunity to point out a few things that I think are worth noting, mostly because I love trivia about this sort of thing.

The oath of office for President is set out in the Constitution itself in Article 2, Section 1(8).  The oath for other federal offices, including the one Joe Biden takes as vice president, is not.  The oath permits the office holder to "swear (or affirm)."  Franklin Pierce (President from 1853 - 1857) and Herbert Hoover (President from 1929 - 1933) both chose to affirm rather than to swear.

The ending of the oath - "so help me God" - is not an official part of the oath as laid out in the Constitution.  Washington apparently added in the words and it's become usual and traditional to include them.

While most presidents have chosen to swear the oath on a Bible (Obama is using the Bible used by Abraham Lincoln at the public ceremony and used a family Bible at the private ceremony), three presidents have not.  John Quincy Adams - that rebel! - swore his oath of office on a book of law.  He was also the first president to wear trousers instead of knee breeches to the ceremony.  Teddy Roosevelt didn't use a darned thing at his first inauguration in 1901.  (This was Teddy "I kill bears before breakfast" Roosevelt - but the lack of a book had more to do with the circumstances of the inaugural,which followed the assassination of Pres. McKinley.)  Lyndon Johnson was sworn in on Air Force One as he was hastily flown back to Washington following Kennedy's assassination.  He used Kennedy's Catholic prayer book for his unscheduled swearing-in.

Regardless of the trappings of the ceremony, there's a heap of work to get done.  The country is bitterly divided about the future of our nation and the amount of common ground seems to be shrinking by the day.  I still have hope for the future - we've weathered more severe storms and I don't see us throwing in the towel any time soon.

But it'll be nice to watch the pomp and ceremony and think, just for a little while, that we're all pulling in the same direction.

*Also, let's not overlook the nigh-perfect symbolism of Obama's Inauguration Day falling on the holiday set aside to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Without a doubt, Dr. King was the face of the American Civil Rights movement and his murder at the hands of a coward had a massive impact on this country.  The New Yorker put together quite a good playlist of songs inspired by Dr. King and his legacies.  Check that out here, won't you?